Lakshmipet Dalits wait for land distribution after one year


STAFF REPORTER

SRIKAKULAM, May 31, 2013

Officials not able to buy land due to skyrocketing prices in Vangara mandal

The State government could not resolve the land distribution issue even after one year in Lakshmipet village of Vangara mandal, Srikakulam where five Dalits were massacred during the clashes between BCs and SCs on June 12, 2012. Both the sections still wanted control over 160 acres of land under Madduvalasa reservoir though it was originally alienated to the government for the construction of the project.

It is useful for agriculture activity but cannot be officially distributed as it is likely to inundate during time of floods. The officials are not able to buy suitable land for the distribution with the skyrocketing of prices in and around Vangara mandal.

The government does not have its own lands for the distribution among the 80 Dalit families.

They feared that poor people among the backward section would also insist for sanction of lands if pattas are given to Dalit people.

Interestingly, the government had spent more than Rs.1 crore on various welfare activities but those did not satisfy Dalit families as they wanted permanent income source through agriculture activity.

According to sources, around Rs. 35.20 lakh worth cattle were distributed among the victim families. A total of Rs.5.31 lakh has been paid as compensation for not providing employment under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Act. Drinking water schemes, community hall have been sanctioned.

A total of Rs.22.8 lakh has been sanctioned as compensation to the families of victims. “The government planned to construct houses and individual sanitary latrines also. But Dalits insist on land distribution. We are helpless since the decision over sanction of land should be taken at Secretariat-level,” said a senior official.

Mala Mahanadu State president Palteti Penta Rao expressed serious concern over the delay in sanctioning pattas to Lakshmipet Dalits even after one year.

“The real justice is done only through distribution of lands among the SC families. Then only, they can lead a respectable life,” said Mr.Pentarao.

Mala Mahanadu youth leader Majji Ganapati has expressed displeasure over the inordinate delay in establishment of special court in the village though the government claimed that the building was ready for the prosecution of accused persons in sensational Lakshmipet case.

 

Gujarat Revenue Minister knows the rates of even country liquor that flows easy in the Dry State


Look Who is saying this and What?

Gujarat Government’s Revenue Minister and a reportedly confidante

of Mr. Narendra Modi freely talks about ‘Potli’

and how to squeeze your Impact Fee

Bilkul News, Ahmedabad, Feb 27: Mahatma Gandhi’s Gujarat is a dry state, but State Revenue Minister Anandiben Patel, known to be close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, seems to know the rates of even country liquor that flows easy in the State.

At a function in Ahmedabad’s labour-dominated Bapunagar area on Monday evening, where she inaugurated an MLA office, she asked the audience, “You must be drinking potli (small polythene bags containing country liquor) everyday, does it cost Rs 20 per bag? How many of them you consume everyday?”

(File photo of Anandiben Patel at an inauguration ceremony …

such leaders are leading Gujarat!)

And a few from the crowd comprising mostly labourers shouted, “paanch potli” (five bags). The senior Cabinet minister responded, “So you waste Rs 100 a day, that means Rs 3,000 a month and Rs 36,000 a year. But still you must be getting sleepless nights for the fear that the (Ahmedabad Municipal) Corporation officials will demolish your illegal construction.” The Hindu is in possession of the video of the minister’s function.

it goes without explanation that when the esteemed minister is asking the crowd how many ‘potlis’ do they consuem everyday, she is very much aware about the fact that liquor is available in Guajarat and nto only that but she is also aware of the type of it and the slang used for it.

She exhorted the audience to pay Rs 2,000 impact fees and get their illegal construction regularised. Gujarat Government has imposed various rates of, what it calls, impact fees on those who wish to get their illegal construction legalised.

Patel went a step further to tell the gathering, “No minister will advise you this but I am doing so. Even if you have 10 metres of illegal construction, show just two metres on paper, afterall it is self-assessment. In any case, we don’t have enough staff to come and check if what you have furnished is correct or false.”

She then told the crowd that it was in their interest to pay up the impact fees, whatever amount it may be.

It may be recalled that the Gujarat Government had introduced a bill proposing capital punishment or life imprisonment for (lattha) hooch manufacturing and peddling in the aftermath of a hooch tragedy in Ahmedabad city in 2009 that left over 140 people dead.

But it is public knowledge that country liquor flows easily throughout Gujarat and is consumed mostly by labourers, who cannot afford illicit Indian-made Foreign Liquor (IMFL) that is also known to be available in the state.

 

 

Mahatma Gandhi’s;Granddaughter opposes #Deathpenalty #Vaw #Rape


: Monday, February 25, 2013, Zee News
Melbourne: Amid a debate in India over capital punishment for rapists, the granddaughter of Mahatma Gandhi on Monday said the death sentence is not the solution to end violence against women and the society needs to promote gender consciousness.”Capital punishment itself will not change the attitude towards gender, nor (the) Anna Hazare-led stir on bringing a law against corruption alone will change the system,” Ela Gandhi, a former South African MP said during her visit to Australia. “Well it’s 2013 but lots of mothers still buy pink for their girls and blue for the boys, that’s just one little thing in which they differentiate. I think if you just go from there, you see little issues in the way we bring up our children, that you know makes these roles separate, that children grow up thinking that we are different,” she said. “There is a difference between girls and boys but that difference is not, you know, in terms of roles and so on. That difference has been exaggerated and that is what we need to curb, ABC news quoted her as saying. And the social activist, who is working to end domestic violence thinks the society needs to “become more gender conscious”. “You know, there has to be real community outreach programs with parents, with young people in schools. Everywhere, gender consciousness needs to be a part of the syllabus of every child, that from infancy to tertiary education and in the community,” she said. She also expressed shock over alleged murder of model Reeva Steenkamp by gold medalist paralympian Oscar Pistorius. “Steenkamp’s death by the hands of her boyfriend has reinforced the unfortunate fact that South Africa is battling with the deep-rooted culture of violence? possession of arms such as a gun lead to these kinds of irreversible consequences,” she said. She also participated in various events framed around the theme “Global Problems, Local Solutions”.

#Gujarat #Elections -Banned Congress Ad on Modi #censorship


Narendra Modi at a BJP rally

Narendra Modi at a BJP rally (Photo credit: Al Jazeera English)

A hilarious advertisement  in Gujarati censored by election commission.

 

 

 

 

‘ Mahatma Gandhi would have embraced #twitter


By Express News Service – BANGALORE

09th December 2012

Mahatma Gandhi would have embraced Twitter with open arms because of the medium’s brevity in communication, columnist Sudheendra Kulkarni said at a session on ‘Literature in Twitter Era’ at the Bangalore Literature Festival  (BLF) at Jayamahal Palace on Saturday.

Kulkarni, who has written a biography on Gandhi, likened the Twitter form of communication to Gandhi’s life and message.

“The beauty of it (Twitter) is its brevity of communication. Gandhi, too, was known for brevity in his thoughts, which were few in words but equally powerful. That is how the young generation must use Twitter,” Kulkarni said.

Joining him in the session, brand domain expert Harish Bijoor said there will be no contradiction between literature and technology.

According to him, ‘Twitterature’ is a new genre of literature that needs to be encouraged. “Twitterature is literature in 140 characters. There are some tweets that make us introspect and think when it was that we did something the last time,” he said as he read out a few tweets from @averyshortstory.

Bijoor said there are 146 million Indians who spend 8 minutes on the Internet everyday and this number would double by 2014.

“We know that you cannot write a love letter in 140 characters and it needs literature. But getting  prescriptive is not the right thing to do,” he said.

 

Hitler’s Strange Afterlife in India #sundayreading


Nov 30, 2012 , http://www.thedailybeast.com

Hated and mocked in much of the world, the Nazi leader has developed a strange following among schoolchildren and readers of Mein Kampf in India. Dilip D’Souza on how political leader Bal Thackeray influenced Indians to admire Hitler and despise Gandhi.

  • My wife teaches French to tenth-grade students at a private school here in Mumbai. During one recent class, she asked these mostly upper-middle-class kids to complete the sentence “J’admire …” with the name of the historical figure they most admired.

Hitler
Adolf Hitler speaks in 1936. (AP Photo)

To say she was disturbed by the results would be to understate her reaction. Of 25 students in the class, 9 picked Adolf Hitler, making him easily the highest vote-getter in this particular exercise; a certain Mohandas Gandhi was the choice of precisely one student. Discussing the idea of courage with other students once, my wife was startled by the contempt they had for Gandhi. “He was a coward!” they said. And as far back as 2002, the Times of India reported a survey that found that 17 percent of students in elite Indian colleges “favored Adolf Hitler as the kind of leader India ought to have.”

In a place where Gandhi becomes a coward, perhaps Hitler becomes a hero.

Still, why Hitler? “He was a fantastic orator,” said the 10th-grade kids. “He loved his country; he was a great patriot. He gave back to Germany a sense of pride they had lost after the Treaty of Versailles,” they said.

“And what about the millions he murdered?” asked my wife. “Oh, yes, that was bad,” said the kids. “But you know what, some of them were traitors.”

Admiring Hitler for his oratorical skills? Surreal enough. Add to that the easy condemnation of his millions of victims as traitors. Add to that the characterization of this man as a patriot. I mean, in a short dozen years, Hitler led Germany through a scarcely believable orgy of blood to utter shame and wholesale destruction. Even the mere thought of calling such a man a patriot profoundly corrupts—is violently antithetical to—the idea of patriotism.

But these are kids, you think, and kids say the darndest things. Except this is no easily written-off experience. The evidence is that Hitler has plenty of admirers in India, plenty of whom are by no means kids.

Consider Mein Kampf, Hitler’s autobiography. Reviled it might be in the much of the world, but Indians buy thousands of copies of it every month. As a recent paper in the journal EPW tells us (PDF), there are over a dozen Indian publishers who have editions of the book on the market. Jaico, for example, printed its 55th edition in 2010, claiming to have sold 100,000 copies in the previous seven years. (Contrast this to the 3,000 copies my own 2009 book,Roadrunner, has sold). In a country where 10,000 copies sold makes a book a bestseller, these are significant numbers.

And the approval goes beyond just sales. Mein Kampf is available for sale on flipkart.com, India’s Amazon. As I write this, 51 customers have rated the book; 35 of those gave it a five-star rating. What’s more, there’s a steady trickle of reports that say it has become a must-read for business-school students; a management guide much like Spencer Johnson’s Who Moved My Cheese or Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking. If this undistinguished artist could take an entire country with him, I imagine the reasoning goes, surely his book has some lessons for future captains of industry?

Much of Hitler’s Indian afterlife is the legacy of Bal Thackeray, chief of the Shiv Sena party who died on Nov. 17.

Thackeray freely, openly, and often admitted his admiration for Hitler, his book, the Nazis, and their methods. In 1993, for example, he gave an interview toTime magazine. “There is nothing wrong,” he said then, “if [Indian] Muslims are treated as Jews were in Nazi Germany.”

It’s no wonder they cling to almost comically superficial ideas of courage and patriotism, in which a megalomaniac’s every ghastly crime is forgotten so long as we can pretend that he ‘loved’ his country.

This interview came only months after the December 1992 and January 1993 riots in Mumbai, which left about a thousand Indians slaughtered, the majority of them Muslim. Thackeray was active right through those weeks, writing editorial after editorial in his party mouthpiece, “Saamna” (“Confrontation”) about how to “treat” Muslims.

On Dec. 9, 1992, for example, his editorial contained these lines: “Pakistan need not cross the borders and attack India. 250 million Muslims in India will stage an armed insurrection. They form one of Pakistan’s seven atomic bombs.”

A month later, on Jan. 8, 1993, there was this: “Muslims of Bhendi Bazar, Null Bazar, Dongri and Pydhonie, the areas [of Mumbai] we call Mini Pakistan … must be shot on the spot.”

There was plenty more too: much of it inspired by the failed artist who became Germany’s führer. After all, only weeks before the riots erupted, Thackeray said this about the führer’s famous autobiography: “If you take Mein Kampf and if you remove the word Jew and put in the word Muslim, that is what I believe in.”

With rhetoric like that, it’s no wonder the streets of my city saw the slaughter of 1992-93. It’s no wonder kids come to admire a mass-murderer, to rationalize away his massacres. It’s no wonder they cling to almost comically superficial ideas of courage and patriotism, in which a megalomaniac’s every ghastly crime is forgotten so long as we can pretend that he “loved” his country.

In his acclaimed 1997 book Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen writes: “Hitler, in possession of great oratorical skills, was the [Nazi] Party’s most forceful public speaker. Like Hitler, the party from its earliest days was devoted to the destruction of … democracy [and to] most especially and relentlessly, anti-Semitism. … The Nazi Party became Hitler’s Party, obsessively anti-Semitic and apocalyptic in its rhetoric about its enemies.”

Do some substitutions in those sentences along the lines Thackeray wanted to do with Mein Kampf. Indeed, what you get is a more than adequate description of … no surprise, Thackeray himself.

Yes, it’s no wonder. Thackeray too was revered as an orator. Cremated, on Nov. 18, as a patriot.

 

The Hindu: It’s time to behave! #advertising


reporter nameAnindita Sarkar, afaqs!, Mumbai,http://www.afaqs.com/
November 02, 2012 Section: News Category: Advertising

While The Hindu continues to target the youth, in its latest television commercial it turns the spotlight on Indian politicians and focuses on the poor example of governance that is being set by them for the new generation.

Beat up your children and they will think it’s the norm. Fight before the young and they will learn to do it better. Break chairs in the midst of solving national issues and the youth will trust that it’s precisely how the country is run. And so, behave.

The Hindu TVC

This is the insight The Hindu’s latest ad is based on. After an entire campaign run which involved The Hindu and The Times of India taking shots at each other, the Chennai-based national daily has launched a fresh ad campaign that urges the nation’s leaders to conduct themselves well.

While the broadsheet continues to target the youth with the campaign, taking off from where it left in its previous communication, this time around it tries to ‘behave’ more inclusive.

In its latest television commercial, the daily turns the spotlight on Indian politicians and focuses on the poor example of governance that is being set by them for the new generation.

Even as it stirs up a conversation that is really affecting the youth, the campaign decides to talk through those who are the source of that very conversation.

Conceptualised by Ogilvy India, the film is set in a classroom. The TVC opens with the professor asking his students to debate the rural development bill; and yes, he seeks ‘proper parliamentary behaviour’. The house is set open wherein two groups of students are pitted against each other. Very soon, the situation turns chaotic. Furniture breaks, books fly, faces are punched. Eventually, as an instrumental version of poet Narsinh Mehta‘s ‘Vaishnava jana to’ (a bhajan endorsed by Mahatma Gandhi during his daily prayer) takes over the screaming disorder, the ad ends with the note, ‘Behave Yourself, India. The Youth Are Watching’.

The insight

While The Hindu wanted to continue its dialogue with the youth, it was also keen to build a mechanism that would allow the daily to extend a thought that could raise many more pertinent issues.

Piyush Pandey
Suresh Srinivasan

And that is when the idea made its way. Piyush Pandey, executive chairman and creative director, South Asia, Ogilvy says that the idea occurred while he was disturbed by something he saw on television. What followed is The Hindu TVC that he wrote.

“The insight is very simple and comes from our everyday lives. It asks us to behave wisely because it will impact the way our children will conduct themselves. The ad tries to talk sensibly to the largest target group of this country (the youth) through an idea, which is much larger and therefore, the positioning becomes much wider now,” says Pandey.

Joono Simon, ECD (South) Ogilvy worked in close collaboration with Pandey to conceptualise and create the campaign.

‘Behave Yourself, India. The Youth Are Watching’ can easily change tone and talk about social injustice, intolerance, attitude toward senior citizens, or even address the current economic divide without taking much away from the classroom scene. But to begin with, The Hindu chose to speak about the politicians.

“A vibrant democracy requires participation of the youth predominantly and in today’s era, the lack of political icons is the bane of the country; the youth of today do not see strong icons to emulate in comparison to the heroes of yesteryears. The Hindu exposes this stark contrast of leadership, and is set to the pulse of the youth and their resentment with today’s governance,” says Suresh Srinivasan, vice-president, advertisement, The Hindu Group of Publications.

“Our previous campaign was not just a reaction to TOI; it was to propagate a story that was begging to be told. Showcasing the horror in junk news consumption and re-establishing that knowledge is the ‘new cool’. This campaign, like the previous one, is also set to the pulse of the youth and strengthens our positioning as a vibrant and aggressive brand,” he adds.

The film that is already being shared and talked about extensively on social networks is being supported by digital and cinema promotions. The print campaign too shall be launched shortly.

The insight-execution translation

Jitender Dabas
Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari

For Jitender Dabas, executive vice-president and head of planning, McCann Worldwide, the ad is a ‘populist’ commercial. According to him, newspapers playing the voice of conscience of the society or holding the mirror to the society is one of the most obvious brand strategies in the newspaper/media category and bashing the politicians is the best way to take a populist moral high ground in our society today.

“So, I see this ad getting very popular in urban India very soon and generating a lot of conversations. It will perhaps also enhance the stature of brand ‘The Hindu’. But will it ever succeed in getting the young, whose cause the newspaper seems to espouse or who are watching this ad on social media, to pick up a copy of ‘The Hindu’? I am not so sure. What surely works for the ad is great monochrome execution and the choice of music,” he says.

According to Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari, executive creative director, Leo Burnett, a newspaper stands for what is happening in the country at that moment. “And if the dynamics of the country is changing, it is only right to strategically portray what the current scenario is. We always say that we should be a living example for our children but our country’s so called political oldies with their tantrums are exactly the opposite. The insight has been very clearly communicated. Like the way the professor is shown — a middle aged man who does not have any point of view like many in our country and will still look in doubt as if nothing has happened.”

 

10-year-old’s RTI posers stump PMO, Government


NEW DELHI, May 25, 2012

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar, The Hindu

Girl questions father of nation status for Gandhi

When some simple questions came to the mind of Aishwarya Parashar, a
Class-VI student of the City Montessori School, Lucknow, she did not
let them languish unasked. She went seeking out answers through the
Right to Information (RTI) Act. Aishwarya’s inquisitiveness and
willingness to pursue the source of information has yielded, till
date, the establishment of a public library on the site of a garbage
dump and the nation being better enlightened about the Father of the
Nation, Mahatma Gandhi.

All of just 10 years, Aishwarya is a confident little girl, who
herself answers a mobile phone and urges those wanting some written
information from her to send her an SMS giving their e-mail ID and
even forwards e-mail and communicates about her work on her own.

“I have so far filed three RTIs with the Prime Minister’s Office,”
she says, adding that “the first one was [a query] about who gave the
order for printing Mahatma Gandhi’s image on currency notes. I was
told in a reply that it was in 1993 following a meeting of the Reserve
Bank of India.”

But it was her subsequent RTI asking the PMO to tell her who conferred
the title of Father of the Nation on Mahatma Gandhi, which confounded
the government. From the PMO, the query went to the Ministry of Home
Affairs and to the National Archives of India, before Aishwarya was
told that “there are no specific documents on the information sought”
by her.

‘Surprising’
“That was really surprising because I never thought it was such a
difficult question since even our history books taught us that Mahatma
Gandhi was the Father of the Nation.”

The first reference to Mahatma Gandhi as Father of the Nation goes
back nearly 70 years when Subhas Chandra Bose referred to Gandhi thus
in a radio address from Singapore in 1944.

Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru too had, in his address to the nation
upon Mahatma Gandhi’s death, referred to him as Father of the Nation:
“Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives, and there
is darkness everywhere, and I do not quite know what to tell you or
how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the Father
of the Nation, is no more.”

After getting an unsatisfactory answer to her query on this issue in
March this year, Aishwarya on April 24 asked the PMO who had declared
Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary on October 2 as also Republic Day
and Independent Day national holidays. To her surprise, she got a
reply dated May 17 that such orders were never issued.

Favourite query
The question most dear to Aishwarya’s heart was posed by her in 2009.
“That was the time when Lucknow was in the grip of swine flu. There
was a big garbage dump near my school, but I only got to see it one
day when my mother came to pick me up as my cycle-rickshaw had not
come. For the parents there was a separate entrance, and on the way
back home I spotted this dump.”

With the help of her mother, Urvashi Sharma, who is a social worker
and RTI activist, Aishwarya penned an application in her own
handwriting. “I had marked that query on the garbage dump to the Chief
Minister and thereafter the Uttar Pradesh government got the dump
removed, and our school constructed a public library on the site.”

Her father, Sanjay Sharma, is a lecturer.
Ambition


Aishwarya wants to become a doctor. Asked why, she quips: “Whenever I
go to a hospital, I see that the poor patients have to first shell out
money in order to get treated. I will, on becoming a doctor, go to the
slums at least once every week and provide free treatment to such poor
people.”

WSS Statement- condemning assault on women undertrials in Mumbai


Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), condemns the assault on three women under-trials, Angela Sontakey, 42, Sushma Ramteke, 22, and Jyoti Chorghe,19, in the Mumbai District Women’s Prison in Byculla.

On March 31 they witnessed an assault upon some other inmates by the prison staff. When they tried to intervene, they too were attacked by the staff. The jail authorities responded to their subsequent demand for an apology by sending them into solitary confinement, without any medical assistance before or after the confinement.

In addition to the assault, the women have complained that there have been attempts to block their access to books, and to classes held in the prison by non-government groups. Their books that included Mahatma Gandhi‘s biography and a pamphlet on prison rights have been confiscated, in complete violation of their basic rights as under-trials. They claim that they are being targeted as they have consistently raised their voice against practices of corruption rampant in the jail, and on various problems faced by the prisoners including access to nutritional food. They have also referred to an atmosphere of fear and terror of jail authorities among the prisoners. A complaint has been filed by their lawyers demanding action against the staff responsible for the assault, and to look into their demand for wholesome food for all prisoners. 

 

We at WSS believe that issues of custodial treatment are of the utmost importance and that prison authorities must not abuse the power they have over prisoners.

 

Angela Sontakey, Sushma Ramteke, and Jyoti Chorghe completed one year in jail on May 16th. In response to their consistent agitation for the rights of the inmates of the Women’s Prison we at WSS demand

 

  • ·        A thorough investigation, and suitable punishment of those found guilty, in the incidents of assault upon all the women prisoners, including  Angela Sontakey, Sushma Ramteke, and Jyoti Chorghe, housed in the Mumbai District  Women’s Prison in Byculla.

 

  • ·        An investigation of the issues raised by these women such as the routine corruption in prison administration as well as the demands of bribes for access to resources and medical treatment.

 

  • ·        Provision of healthy, hygienic and nutritious food, apart from other basic amenities, to all women prisoners, as stipulated by law.

 

  • ·        Immediate halt to the use of ‘Solitary confinement’ – a provision in the jail manual meant to be used to punish or control errant prisoners – as a method of punishing under-trials or prisoners demanding their basic and legitimate rights.


Contact email id: againstsexualviolence@gmail.com 


_________________________________________________________________


Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non-funded effort started in November 2009, to put an end to the violence perpetrated upon our bodies and societies. We are a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising of women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberty organizations, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on women by any perpetrator (s).

Children of god ?- Kuldip Nayar


Kuldip Nayar

Kuldip Nayar (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kuldip Nayar

in Dailystar
When an Australian editor posed a question to the Indian press on why it never had a dalit, the untouchable, at a top position in journalism, I felt embarrassed. I considered it an omission which should have been rectified long ago and felt confident that it would happen before long.

But after noticing that no attention was paid a few days ago to the 121st anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, a Gandhi for the dalits, I have come to believe that the discrimination against the dalits is a prejudice which would take many decades to wear off. They are at the lowest rung of the Hindu society which develops a bias against them at an early age and has no shame in perpetuating it.

The only thing to remind Dr. Ambedkar was a full-page advertisement sponsored by the central government in leading newspapers. There was also a small function around his portrait in the central hall of parliament which is out of bounds for an ordinary citizen. I did not see television channels showing any programme on Dr. Ambedkar, nor did I find any edit or article in any newspaper to recall his services.

Dr. Ambedkar is the framer of India‘s constitution and we owe the parliamentary system to him. This is enshrined in the constitution. I recall how boldly he stood in parliament to have a provision against untouchability, the bane of Hindu society, and how he expressed hope that the prejudice would disappear. Yet the upper caste has proved him wrong.

Reservations given to the Scheduled Castes, namely the dalits, are laid down in the constitution. But this was despite his opposition. He was against reservations which he compared with crutches by the then Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, and other Congress leaders prevailed upon him to accept the provision for 10 years.

Little did Dr. Ambedkar realise at that time that political parties on the one hand and the vested interests among dalits, particularly the creamy layer, on the other would go on prolonging reservations for electoral advantage. So demanding is this consideration that reservations are given extensions decade after decade without a debate in parliament.

The Hindu society should be grateful to Dr. Ambedkar that he and his followers embraced Buddhism. He had threatened to convert to Islam along with his dalit followers to escape discrimination. Mahatma Gandhi beseeched him and even threatened to go on fast unto death. Dr. Ambedkar bowed before the wishes of Gandhi but refused to return to the fold of Hinduism.

Even conversion has not helped the dalits. They are more or less treated in Islam, Christianity or Sikhism in the same way as in the Hindus society. The dalits carry the tag of discrimination and helplessness wherever they go, although the three religions claim equality for the followers. Therefore, the dalits have not escaped the rigours of caste system even outside Hinduism. The Sachar committee has pointed out the inhuman treatment meted out to them even when they have embraced Islam.

Gandhiji christened the dalit as Harijan, Son of god. But it reflected a patronizing attitude which the dailit scornfully rejected. Why the dalits, who constitute some 17% of India’s population, have continued to stay in the Hindu society despite all the insults heaped on them is beyond me. They have never revolted nor have they taken any step to harm the Hindu society which still does not give them even a modicum of individuality.

A few years ago some dalits, led by Kanshi Ram, constituted a political party of their own, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). It has won them political recognition but not social status. Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati, despite corruption and her authoritarian trait, has given dalits the feeling that they can go to the police station and register complaints. They are offered even chairs as is the case with members of other communities. Home Minister P. Chidambaram‘s advice to dalits to join major parties to enjoy power does not mean much. They followed the Congress faithfully for 45 years. but their lot has remained the same as it was.

Even now the dalits carry night soil on their head. The government proposes to prohibit the practice which was contemplated 50 years ago. The home ministry issued instructions even at that time. Apparently, very little has happened since because the government is enacting a law to stop the practice. The dalits would do well if they were to refuse to carry night soil on their head. Yet they are economically so poor that they cannot afford to risk the livelihood.

At the same time, crimes against the dalits have not lessened. There is a proposal to give arms to them in what are called “atrocity prone areas.” Obviously, the government has failed to protect the dalits and their property. Unfortunately, the police force is also on the side of the landlords and other vested interests who treat the dalits as their subject like the maharaja used to do.

Official figures reveal that there is a huge backlog of cases relating to the atrocities committed against the dalits. Had the centre been serious about preventing atrocities against them it would have taken measures like special courts, fast track prosecution and steps to dispose of cases quickly. Strangely, the Patna High Court has acquitted all the 23 persons accused of perpetrating the massacre of 21 dalits at Bathani Tola in Bhojpur.

It should have been clear by now that no law or no government action can do away with the evil of untouchability. You cannot succeed if the mindset does not change. What the children have grown up with in the name of tradition or religion is prejudiced and cannot be effaced until the society is forced to give up bias which has got entrenched.

The country needs a social revolution. Alas, I do not find any meaningful movement to bring it about. Take, for example, the belief that girls are a burden. How many of them are killed either in womb or after birth is not possible to count. That it happens mostly in north India, particularly Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan and UP is no solace.

A sustained effort to change the mindset and remove the clogs of superstition can make a dent into this widely prevailing evil. But no political party is interested in doing so. Nor are the activists because they are aiming at economic changes. Social problems are begging for attention.

The writer is an eminent Indian Journalist.

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