Friday, 4 May 2012

Karnataka Khap panchayat ostracises 16-year-old pregnant Dalit girl -

Dalits Media Watch
News Updates 02.05.12
Karnataka Khap panchayat ostracises 16-year-old pregnant Dalit girl - Tehelka
Students from National Capital Region protest at Amity campus, demand action - The Times Of India
Ensnared Usilampatti poor sweat it out in many States - The Hindu
A real prejudice - Indian Express
Govt to set up Rs 100-cr corpus for loans to SCs, STs and OBCs - IBN Live
Scheduled Castes welfare schemes get Rs.6000 crore - The Hindu
Bangaru Laxman – paying the price for being Dalit? - Asian Correspondent
Karnataka Khap panchayat ostracises 16-year-old pregnant Dalit girl
Imran Khan, TehelkaBengaluru, Posted on 01 May 2012
Bannisorige village elders upset that she had an affair with a lower caste boy, thus "offending the family and the village"
A khap panchayat in Karnataka has ostracised a 16-year-old Dalit girl for getting pregnant by her lover. Jaya (name changed to protect identity), who works as a labourer, was slapped with a fine of Rs 10,000 by the Bannisorige village panchayat in Chamrajanagar district before banishing her. The village elders were particularly furious with Jaya for falling in love with Kumar who belongs to a caste considered lower than hers.
The incident came to light when Jaya was found begging at the Kollegal government hospital, near her village, by a local journalist. Now, seven months into her pregnancy Jaya had spent almost a month staying in the hospital compound, since she was banished from her village by the panchayat. When the matter was highlighted by the local media, the hospital authorities swung into action and admitted her as an in-patient; after nearly ignoring her for a month.
Jaya got into an intimate relationship with Kumar, who hails from the neighbouring village of Agrahara, after he promised to marry her. However, her family, who got wind of her relationship after she conceived, was furious when they realised that the boy hailed from a different caste.
The matter was reported to the village elders who held her "guilty" of "offending the family and the village" by having an affair with a boy from a lower caste. The panchayat declared her guilty and slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 and sent her out of the village.
Left to fend for herself, Jaya went to the government hospital in nearby Kollegal taluk for treatment. When the hospital authorities failed to take notice of her, Jaya started living at the corridors of the hospital and was forced to beg for food and money from the visitors at the hospital.
When contacted, the local police authorities said that despite being aware of the situation there was little they could do since no complaint had been registered. Chairperson of State Commission for Protection of Child Rights Nina P Nayak told Tehelka that the commission will investigate the matter and take further action.
The Times Of India


Students from National Capital Region protest at Amity campus, demand action

Sanjay Yadav, TNN | May 2, 2012, 05.05AM IST
GURGAON: Students of different educational institutions in the NCR, led by Beenalakshmi Nepram, a Meghalaya-based social activist, gathered at the Amity University campus here to protest against the university administration and police for not taking any action against those allegedly responsible for the suicide of 21-year-old MBA student Dana Silva M Sangma.
Protesters lit lamps and offered flowers in the memory of Dana. The family members of Dana, who had also joined the protest, visited her hostel room and met the deputy vice-chancellor, Major General Suhag. Meghalaya CM Mukul Sangma's daughter Maina Shera, cousin of Dana, also took part in the protest and said a candle-light vigil would be held at India Gate in Delhi for Dana on Wednesday.
Around 50 to 60 students, along with the NSUI district president, Niraj Singh, demonstrated at the main gate of the Amity University in Pachgaon, Gurgaon, on NH-8. Niraj Singh told IANS: "Students at Amity seem to be tense and under pressure from the university administration. Looking at the inaction after the suicide of Dana Sangma, they fear for their future." Singh added that more than 400 students from the university took part in the demonstration.
The deputy vice chancellor, however, said that the students were busy in the exams and were not under any kind of pressurize. He assured them that justice would be done.
Earlier, the Amity University authorities tried to calm students saying there was no cover-up in Dana's death probe.
Agitating students alleged that Dana was not only accused of cheating, invigilator Supereo Ghatak had also threatened "to finish her career". Students stood with banners and slogans at the university gate but the security guards did not let them enter the university campus.
Shishir, a student of Delhi's Shri Ram College of Commerce said they agitation will be on until the truth came out.
Anguished protestors also criticized the way the Haryana police has handled the case. Police have registered a case against the university administration under the SC/ST Atrocities Act and Section 306 (abetting suicide) of the IPC but no one has been detained so far.
A senior police officer said that the forensic reports of Dana's mobile phone and parts of the answer sheet would come out in two to three days and necessary action would be taken against the guilty.
Meanwhile, the internal inquiry report of the university was submitted to the vice chancellor. The inquiry was conducted by a five-member committee constituted under the chairmanship of pro-vice chancellor Padmakali Banerjee.
Dana was surfing net on cellphone, confirms deputy vice-chancellor
GURGAON: Amity deputy vice-chancellor Major General B S Suhag on Tuesday confirmed that Dana Sangma's mobile phone was on during the examination that day and that she was surfing the internet. However, he said it was not clear whether the phone was in her hand or inside the pocket. He also refused to disclose the details of the website she was looking at. 

The mobile phone was in Dana's hand but she had put it in her pocket after the invigilator took notice , said a source. Later, she had switched off her phone in her room. A police officer, who took the mobile in custody from Dana's room, has confirmed that the mobile was switched off.

Meanwhile, Suhag said that the invigilator, Supereo Ghatak, has returned from leave and gave his statement to both the police and the five-member university inquiry committee. "Last year, nine students were caught for using mobile phone in the examination hall. We lodged a case of use of unfair means against the students and also cancelled their paper," said Suhag.
The Hindu


Ensnared Usilampatti poor sweat it out in many States

D. Karthikeyan
"Tamil Nadu government must rescue and rehabilitate bonded labourers"
About 50,000 children from the State were working in snacks and sweets making units across India, mostly as bonded labourers, says Campaign Against Child Labour (CACL), a Madurai-based non governmental organisation says and has urged the State government to take steps to rescue and rehabilitate them.
In a study conducted by it recently following the rescue of a huge number of bonded labourers by Madurai police from units in north India, the CACL states that Dalit children and youth from families of landless peasants and casual labourers from in and around Usilampatti in Madurai were ensnared into bonded labour through persuasive means, exploiting their poor economic conditions.

Victims to exploiters

Madurai's Usilampatti taluk is largely dependent on agriculture and allied activities for livelihood since there are no industries to provide employment to them. Piramalai Kallars is the predominant community in this region followed by Dalits. Other castes are miniscule in number.
A famine-like situation in Usilampatti and surrounding areas in the 1970s made things worse, resulting in migration of Kallars and their families in huge numbers to brick kilns in northern districts of Tamil Nadu and Kerala. Some families left for Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh and started snack (murukku) making units to earn a livelihood. When these small units started earning profit, what began as a cottage industry transformed into big business entities with the owners diversifying into making cakes, mixture, laddu, halwa. They also became stockists in these places for raw materials needed for making the products.
After a few years, they started to invest in immovable assets and became owners of land and shops in these areas. This upward economic mobility got coupled with political power as they contested in local body elections and became powerful in those places.
After this economic expansion from cottage industry to small industry, there was a great need for labour and it was when they started hiring manpower from Usilampatti and most of them who were hired belonged to landless Dalit families. The Kallars who went to earn livelihood in these places, after gaining economic prosperity, came back to Usilampatti and invested in buying lands and houses and gave them on rent and became landlords. As they made huge profits in snack-making units, they started engaging more and more hapless children through brokers and kidnappers and kept them as bonded labourers.
The children and youth lived in appalling conditions with no freedom and more than 18 hours of work a day in extremely difficult conditions. They were beaten up mercilessly whenever they questioned or demanded better treatment, work conditions or wages.

Expanded network

These units could be found in states such as Jammu and Kashmir, Uttar Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Maharashtra, Gujarat — particularly in cities such as vijayawada, Tirupati, Warangal, Cudappah, Kurnool, Hyderabad, Secunderabad, Anantapur, Madanapalli, Nellore, Vishakapatnam in Andhra Pradesh and many parts of Karnataka and Kerala, major cities such as New Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, besides major towns in Tamil Nadu.
Bonded labourers were picked up from Meikkizharpatti, Karithiveeranpatti, Kavandanpatti, Malaipatti, Vadugapatti, Boothipuram, Chokkathevanpatti, Vellaimalaipatti, Ayyanarkulam, Putthur, Nadupatti, Nattapatti, Sadachipatti, Pasukkaranpatti, A.Pudhupatti, Nalluthevanpatti, Muthaiyampatti, Kallapatti, Vagurani, V. Kamatchipuram, Kalloothu, K. Perumalpatti, and K. Paraipatti among other villages.
Since there was adequate income from snack units more and more people were engaging in this business in various States and hiring bonded labourers. Hence the government should take a serious view of this and take steps to prevent children becoming bonded labourers, the CACL said.
The Tamil Nadu government should take stern action against owners and brokers of units, undertake an identification exercise to rescue and rehabilitate the bonded labourers. Those who were rescued by the Madurai police should be immediately sent for rehabilitation. Changes should be brought in the Constitution to increase the age bar of child labour limit from 14 to 18.
Indian Express


A real prejudice

The Indian Express : Wed May 02 2012, 03:29 hrs
But the reason for deaths of students from Northeast must be established, not assumed
Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma wants a new legislation to protect students from the Northeast. He contends that humiliation and discrimination led to the suicide of his niece, Dana M. Sangma, who was allegedly caught cheating in an exam. A case has been filed under the (SC/ST) Prevention of Atrocities Act, and Amity University officials have been charged with abetment to suicide. Meanwhile in Bangalore, Richard Loitam, a 19-year-old Manipuri boy, was allegedly bludgeoned to death. Students from the Northeast have organised protests around the country and there is fear of reprisals against "outsiders" in northeastern states. As the political stakes rise, the minister of state for rural development, Agatha Sangma has also spoken up, saying that such discrimination was an unavoidable reality in Indian cities.
As public officials, Mukul and Agatha Sangma should know better than to weigh in with their generalisations about group discrimination before these cases have been investigated. Mukul Sangma is personally invested in this case, but that must not tempt him to assign motives before they are proved. Whether the victims are from the Northeast or anywhere else, the reason for their deaths should be established at the end of the inquiry, not assumed at the beginning.
The fact of differential treatment of migrants from the Northeast, though, is a point that could not be ground in enough. Thousands of students move to colleges in big Indian cities every year, because of the paucity of options at home. Universities should be the great cauldron of integration — where diverse groups mix, where profitable social networks are forged. But by all accounts, students from the Northeast are still socially segregated, treated differently for "looking different". The prejudice runs deep. Whether it is access to housing or protection by the police, migrants from the Northeast have it demonstrably harder. While legal protection is welcome, the only lasting solution is more contact. Migrants from the Northeast must come, in greater numbers, to work and study and live in these hubs of opportunity until their presence becomes as mundane as that of anyone else in this variegated nation. Personal experience is the best and only lasting way to bust a received idea about a group.
IBN Live


Govt to set up Rs 100-cr corpus for loans to SCs, STs and OBCs

PTI | 09:05 PM,May 01,2012
New Delhi, May 1 (PTI) Delhi Government will set up a special corpus of Rs 100 crore for extending loans to entrepreneurs from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities at a nominal interest rate. PWD Minister Raj Kumar Chouhan, who also holds charge of SC/ST Welfare department, said government has decided to set up the corpus to encourage entrepreneurs from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities. He said government has also decided to offer loans of upto Rs five lakh instead of Rs one lakh to entrepreneurs from these communities. The government provides loans to youths from SC, ST, OBC and minority communities for self employment as well as to start entrepreneurship. Chouhan said an amount of Rs 100 crore has been sanctioned for offering scholarships in 2012-13 to students from these communities studying in schools, colleges and other professional institution. He said in the year 2010-11, Rs 19.55 crore was spent on providing scholarship to students from these communities. The Minister said government has also decided to increase monthly old-age pension to poor people from SC, ST, OBC and minority community from Rs 1,000 to Rs 1,500. The old-age pension is being given to poor people attaining age of 60 years and above.
The Hindu


Scheduled Castes welfare schemes get Rs.6000 crore

Special Correspondent
Debate rages over full utilisation of sum for target group
The State government's allocation under the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan has hit an all-time high of Rs.6,108.60 crore, constituting 21.82 per cent of the annual plan outlay of the Budget, but the debate over full utilisation of this sum for the development of the Adi Dravidar community is continuing.
Stating that the government gives special priority for the welfare of Adi Dravidar and tribal communities, the Budget paper promises to ensure that funds meant for the Adi Dravidar reach the target group.
This year, Finance Department officials say, almost the entire allocation under this plan (usually referred to as Special Component Plan - SCP) will reach the target group — the SC population comprises about 19 per cent of the State's population — as the funds will be allotted under the 'divisible' component wherein individual beneficiaries can be clearly identified.
According to the officials, plan schemes fall into two categories – divisible and indivisible.
The divisible component is targeted at individuals where money is spent on schemes such as old age pension and student scholarships. The indivisible component includes roads, bridges and flyovers and other infrastructure projects that benefit the community at large.
The main charge of the Opposition legislators in the past has been that the funds meant for the SCs are often diverted for projects such as bridges and roads, which will also benefit other communities. And most often, the Finance Department comes under fire.
While in the past there has been more allocation under the indivisible category, the introduction of freebies in recent years has ensured more funds allotted under the SCP amount reach the target group as they are targeted at individuals.
This year, almost all the money under the SCP will reach and benefit the target group, officials involved in planning and allocation say. In fact, the government has issued orders that a sizable percentage, with the upper mark at 30 per cent, of the new welfare schemes introduced by the present government should benefit SCs.
Under the SCP, this year's Budget has allocated Rs.331.31 crore for pre-matric and post-matric scholarships for SC/ST students; Rs.83.40 crore for infrastructure upgradation in 1,080 hostels; Rs.76.76 crore for feeding charges of students in Adi Dravidar hostels and Rs.82 crore Special Central Assistance for eradication of poverty and unemployment.
"This year, Rs.750 crore has been earmarked for Metro Rail. About Rs.30 crore could have been included under the SCP but the government has not done so. There is no boosting up," says a Finance Department official.
"Free laptop schemes for students in government colleges and schools will benefit a sizable percentage of SC students. Similarly, the SCs will be beneficiaries of other major freebie schemes," he notes.
Another senior officer involved in the drafting of the Budget a few times before, says the freebies have become the face of development and the laptop scheme for students perfectly falls under the SCP.
Two ex-MLAs, both from the Dalit community, who vehemently sought proper allocation under the SCP during the last Assembly session differ. Congress leader Namakkal K. Jayakumar opines that freebies will not fall under the SCP and any such allocation will be a violation of norms.
"It is solely to be spent for creating social and educational infrastructure of the community."
Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi general secretary D. Ravikumar says the Union Planning Commission has given clear guidelines on allocation under the SCP. "It has to be primarily for educational purposes, for building institutional infrastructure such as schools, colleges, polytechnics and help entrepreneurs from the community set up industries to ensure economic independence. At a broader level, it also aims at asset creation."
"The Finance Department can only allocate funds for plans. It can't make plans. It is for the Adi Dravidar Welfare Department to formulate plans," says an IAS officer who was deputy secretary (budget) earlier.
Asian Correspondent
Bangaru Laxman – paying the price for being Dalit?
By Nilanjan Mukhopadhyay May 01, 2012 2:20AM UTC
Going by the reaction in political circles to the former (and disgraced) Bharatiya Janata Party president being sentenced to four years, it is clear that being Dalit and in the BJP is not a good idea.
To begin with, for the past 11 years – ever since the Tehelka tapes were first telecast in March 2001 – the defence of Laxman by the BJP was never as vigorous as it might have been if an upper caste leader had been accused of similar charges.
From the beginning Laxman made two points – very vital in the entire case. Firstly he told interviewer after interviewer that he "accepted the money because they gave it to me by saying it was for the party fund… I had immediately told the party treasurer about the whole thing. We even kept the receipt ready, but they never came back. The money was kept in the suspense account…"
Secondly, Laxman suggested that he had discussed government matters – especially those pertaining to defence deals – with officials in the Prime Minister's Office. Within days two officers had come under a cloud for their alleged role in the entire episode – Brajesh Mishra and NK Singh. The former was the Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and the latter Officer on Special Duty in the PMO.
On both issues, the BJP leadership chose to remain silent. The only effort the BJP made tosave Laxman was by getting the government led by the party to give tacit instructions to the Central Bureau of Investigations to go slow in its probe of the case.
Even this cover was pulled off Laxman once the National Democratic Alliance was voted out of office in 2004 and the CBI resumed pursuing the case with vigour.
There were some BJP leaders at that time – like CP Thakur – who argued that Laxman was made a scapegoat and that his resignation as party president should not have been accepted. At that time there was virtually no argument – in the BJP and outside it – that was similar to those that come to the fore whenever corruption charges were levied against Mayawati (that it is a Upper Caste conspiracy) or whenever she indulges in an unabashed display of wealth (the underprivileged syndrome – wanting to send signals to previously dominant social groups that the table had been turned).
However, this does not mean that one can condone Laxman for accepting the money from unknown people who were masquerading as arms dealers. But the BJP cannot absolve itself of the charge that Laxman was a product its thought factory having been part of the Sangh Parivar for decades.
Clearly, despite its KN Govindacharya-led attempt at social engineering mainly in the 1990s, the BJP has once again demonstrated that at core it remains an Upper Caste party with a few strategic alliances in some regions with Other Backward castes.
If Dalits stray into the BJP, then they are to be shunned by mainstream and morerepresentative Dalit parties and organisations. La affaire Bangaru Laxman has underscored that being Dalit in the BJP is a bad deal – either way.

.Arun Khote
On behalf of
Dalits Media Watch Team
(An initiative of "Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre-PMARC")
Peoples Media Advocacy & Resource Centre- PMARC has been initiated with the support from group of senior journalists, social activists, academics and  intellectuals from Dalit and civil society to advocate and facilitate Dalits issues in the mainstream media. To create proper & adequate space with the Dalit perspective in the mainstream media national/ International on Dalit issues is primary objective of the PMARC.