Dalits Media Watch
News Updates 24.01.13
Jaipur Lit Fest: Munshi Premchand biased against dalits? - Daily Bhaskar
A lifeline in the dalit battle for land rights - The Times Of India
Where Dalits have ostracised Dalits - The Hindu
TN university in row over move to drop feminism - The Times Of India
Jaipur Lit Fest: Munshi Premchand biased against dalits?
Bhaskar News | Jan 24, 2013, 18:33PM IST
Jaipur: Jaipur Literature Festival has become a place where writers from across the world come together and share their thoughts on various aspects of literature. When so many fine brains come together, controversies are bound to reign.
Fictionist Professor Ajay Navaria believes that Munshi Premchand expressed a hidden bias against Dalits. "He was affected by his surroundings and ended up treating Dalits as lesser humans," says Navaria during a discussion on the subject of "Corruption in Language".
He was in conversation with film writer Gaurav Solanki and Delhi University Professor Anamika . "When you read Premchand novels and short stories, you find Dalits being addressed with harsh and blunt words, but at the same time rich and upper-caste people are addressed in more civilized and decent ways," says Navaria. He believes that writers have created an image of Dalits—they will speak in loud voice, wear smeared clothes and will not be cultured. And unfortunately most of the writers prefer to adhere to this image of Dalits.
The Times Of India
A lifeline in the dalit battle for land rights
Saeed Khan, TNN Jan 23, 2013, 07.11AM IST
AHMEDABAD: Navsarjan Trust was a response to one of the worst instances of caste violence in Gujarat. In January 1986, the Rajputs of Golana village in Anand district shot dead four dalits over a land dispute.
Eighteen people were injured and several dalit houses were set on fire. Activist Martin Macwan, who had lost a colleague in that violence, started Navsarjan in 1989 to take up the cause of dalits.
Its work includes helping dalit labourers get government land to ensure their economic and social stability.
Among others, this initiative has been a lifeline of hope for a group of 51 women at Vautha village, 80km from Ahmedabad.
For the last three years, the women â€" all from poor dalit families â€" have been tilling 100 acres of land on the banks of the Sabar mati.
The land was leased to them by the state government.
Today, it is lush green with castor and cotton crops. However, some local upper-caste farmers have staked claim to it and the matter is in court.
But Baluben Makwana, 60, who leads the group of dalit women, is undeterred.
She has spent a lifetime working on other people's lands for less than minimum wages. Years of humiliation have only firmed her resolve. "For the first time in years, my family and I are not sleeping on empty stomachs," she says.
"It's the first time we have a sense of dignity." In the early 1990s, Navsarjan identified this piece of government land a kilometre from the village, at the time being illegally cultivated by upper-caste farmers. The trust got possession of the land for dalits through a lease, on the ground that they were landless labourers. But the moment the dalits tried to till the land, they were threatened and forced to leave by the upper caste farmers. Then, in 2009, Navsarjan helped Baluben turn her bhajan mandali (prayer group) into a micro credit group. These women requested Macwan to help them regain ownership of the land.
The NGO secured the necessary permissions from the government. The fight is not over, but the women are confident. "We are not even afraid of the recent case filed against us as we know Navsarjan will take care of the legal battle," says Laxmiben Makwana."We know Navsarjan will fight for us." The trust has helped more than 200 families get farmland and helped many more in their legal battles. Last year, a few chemical companies were forced to stop releasing deadly effluents into the lands of Chacharwadi Vasna village near Ahmedabad, following a PIL in Gujarat High Court filed with Navsarjan's help.
The court shut down one of the units. One other was forced to construct a waste-treatment plant.
"The yield from our farms is now improving," says villager Bharat Chauhan. With 150 employees and more than 9,000 volunteers, the trust also reaches primary education to backward areas. It also runs three boarding schools for dalit children. Now, after a three-decade-long struggle, Macwan wants legislation to protect the least-protected dalits. "The atrocity law to protect dalits isn't enough; we need a law against dalits also, to protect their lower sub-castes," he says.
Where Dalits have ostracised Dalits
As many as 21 Dalit families of Heggare village, near here, allege that they have been ostracised by their own community people for the past one-and-a-half years.
They are among the 80 families residing in the Dalit Colony. Most of them work as labourers and construction workers, and struggle to get two square meals a day.
The problem started when a meeting was convened by a few Dalit community leaders to choose a person to head the community. R. Narasaiah, a Dalit who retired as valve man in Tumkur, opined that all people belonging to the community should be invited. However, Basavaraju — a government school teacher and husband of Heggare panchayat member Soubhagyamma — and his supporters ignored the suggestion and went ahead with the meeting. This tussle ended in the ostracism of Mr. Narasaiah and his family. They were not allowed to enter the Maramma temple, following which he built a temple for goddess Lakshmi on his land. The families which are facing ostracism alleged that Mr. Basavaraju and his supporters ordered the rest of the community to boycott Mr. Narasaiah and his family. The announcement, made to the accompaniment of drumbeats, also said violators would be fined Rs. 1,001.
Subsequently, 20 families which interacted with Mr. Narasaiah and his family were also boycotted. They were not even allowed to collect water from the public tap.
These Dalits alleged that the supporters and son of Mr. Basavaraju were picking up a fight with them over trivial matters, and also hurled abuses at them. The two groups clashed on January 13 near the Maramma temple. Rajanna and Mr. Basavaraju were injured and admitted to the government hospital in Tumkur. Cases have been registered against both groups under IPC sections 143, 147, 323, 324, 504 and 506, read with 149 in the Tumkur Rural police station. Gowramma, a resident, told The Hindu, "Mr. Basavaraju's son and his group have openly threatened us that they will rape our young girls and spoil their lives if we go against them".
Jayamma, another resident, said: "Mr. Basavaraju and his group have threatened us that they would kill us if we do not cast our votes in favour of the persons they suggest."
Mr. Basavaraju, however, refused to comment on the issue.
But his family members and supporters, including Nagaraju, alleged that false cases had been booked against them. District convener of the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti M.D. Doddegowda said that earlier also complaints had been booked against both groups. They were called to the police station and a compromise was arrived at, following which the cases were withdrawn.
Mr. Doddegowda urged officials to take action against the people who boycotted the 21 Dalit families.
District Social Welfare Officer B.S. Pradeep said the matter had not come to his notice, adding he would send his officers to the village to find out what was happening.
Tahsildar B. Ahobalaiah also said, "It has not come to my notice, I will find out."
The Times Of India
TN university in row over move to drop feminism
By M T Saju, TNN | Jan 24, 2013, 05.28 AM IST
CHENNAI: At a time when the country is debating ways to deal with rising crime against women, a university in Tirunelveli in south Tamil Nadu is planning to withdraw optional papers like penniyam (feminism), dalityam (studies on dalits) and the theories of Periyar from the syllabus of BA Tamil language and literature course. The controversial move by the Manonmaniam Sundaranar University (MSU) has activists up in arms.
Varsity sources said the department is planning to introduce subjects like translation, tourism, computer science and ancient literature by withdrawing some of these "progressive" subjects. A Ramasamy, who headed the Tamil department of the University when these papers were included in the syllabus in 2005, said the board of studies approved the subjects, hoping to get students to learn Tamil literature in the current context. While feminism deals with works of women authors, studies on dalit dealt with literary works of noted dalit writers.
"Every student will have an optional paper to study every semester. Subjects like feminism and dalit studies were introduced with an idea of giving students a current perspective about the world," said Ramasamy, who is now as a visiting professor at the University of Warsaw, Poland. "It was from a social networking site that I first heard some people are trying to replace the progressive subjects for some vague reason. It's unfortunate," he said.
S Alagesan, head, department of Tamil at the university, said only a few optional papers would be dropped. "Based on some suggestions, we are planning to introduce some modern subjects like translation, tourism and computer training in the syllabus," he said. Sources said the decision was taken by members of the board of studies when they met on January 7. The vice-chancellor has to agree to the move and a final decision will be taken by the syndicate. "We sent a letter to the VC on January 10, citing our objections. We haven't received a reply so far," said Stalin Rajangam of the Intellectual Circle for Dalit Actions, a forum of dalit activists and writers in Tamil Nadu.
Established in 1990, the university named after the famous Tamil scholar P Sundaram Pillai, has now 61 affiliated colleges with about 65,000 students. "We are not against subjects like translation and ancient literature. We are only objecting to some subjects, relevant to modern times, being withdrawn," said Tamil writer Imayam, whose three novels are part of the existing dalit studies subject.
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.