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Tuesday 10 April 2012

Dalits denied water in K’pada village

Dalits Media Watch
News Updates 09.04.12
Dalits suffered most during Maya rule: MHA report - The Indian Express
Uttar Pradesh plans scheduled caste status for 17 OBC sub-castes - The Times Of India
Missing from the Indian newsroom - The Hindu
Life lessons from Jagjivan Ram - The Indian Express
The Pioneer
Monday, 09 April 2012 00:30 , PNS | KENDRAPADA
A Dalit ward in Ghagara gram panchayat under Nikirai police limits was denied Government pipe water facility by the sarpanch who took the decision at the behest of her father because many residents of the ward did not cast their votes to her during the recently concluded panchayat elections.
According to police sources, Ghagara sarpanch Banodini Parida did not allow any development work to take place, including connection of a Government-sponsored water pipe line, in a Dalit ward of the panchayat at the behest of her father Balaram Parida. Balaram blocked the pipe water project in the ward for avenging on the residents who did not cast their votes to her daughter.
This led to an altercation between Balaram and a Dalit member of the ward and Balaram Parida made casteist remarks on him besides using filthy language. Later, both Balaram and the Dalit member lodged FIRs against each other at Nikirai police station.
When contacted, Nikirai police station IIC Manashi Patra said she had received two complaints and was conducting an investigation into the alleged matter.
The Pioneer
Sunday, 08 April 2012 01:15 , PNS | CUTTACK
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has taken a serious note of the recent group clash in Rayagada district where houses of Dalits were torched and people were rendered homeless.
Issuing notices to the State Chief Secretary and Director General of Police (DGP), the NHRC has sought explanations from the Government asking it to furnish all details in regard to the action taken to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.
"The Chief Secretary and the DGP have been asked to file affidavits in this regard within four weeks," informed counsel of National Media Center (NMC) Nishikant Mishra, who had moved the NHRC last week. The NHRC directions to the Odisha Government came on Friday, Mishra informed.
Mishra had approached the NHRC seeking compensation of Rs 50,000 to each family whose house was torched in Kalahandipada village under Chandili police station on March 29 last. Mishra had also sought directions from the NHRC to the State Government for taking stringent action against the perpetrators of the heinous crime.
According to reports, two persons were injured and at least 50 houses were torched leaving at least 250 people homeless after a group clash occurred between the residents of Sanachandili-Badachandili and Kalahandipada and Nuapada villages over passing comment on a girl.
Mishra in his application to the NHRC had mentioned that the houses of the Dalits alone were selectively torched in the clash in which 50 other houses were damaged, including an equal number of houses gutted.
He said though over 250 persons were rendered homeless; only 50 persons have been rehabilitated at a shelter home while the whereabouts of the rest are not known yet. The local administration has not even bothered to trace the missing persons, Mishra alleged.
The Indian Express
Dalits suffered most during Maya rule: MHA report
New Delhi, Mon Apr 09 2012, 02:12 hrs
*      Uttar Pradesh saw the maximum number of attacks on Scheduled Castes in 2010 when the erstwhile Mayawati government was in charge of the state.
The annual report of the Home Ministry for 2011-12 released on Wednesday said Uttar Pradesh recorded the highest number (6,272) of cases of crime against SCs out of a total of 32,712 —19.2 per cent of the total incidents in the country in 2010.
The numbers mentioned in the report pertains to the time when BSP government was is power in UP, headed by Mayawati, a Dalit herself. Interestingly, the country witnessed a drop of 2.6 per cent in crimes against SCs — from 33,594 incidents in 2009 to 32,712 incidents in 2010.
Among the cases of crime against SCs registered in 2010, 570 were murders, 1,349 rape, 511 kidnapping, 117 dacoity and robbery and 150 incidents of arson.
The highest number of crimes against Scheduled Tribes (STs) was recorded in Madhya Pradesh — 23.4 per cent or 1,384 incidents of the total 5,885 — followed by Rajasthan 22.4 per cent or 1,319 incidents in the country in 2010. A total of 5,885 cases against STs were reported in the country during 2010, compared to 5,425 cases in 2009, showing an increase of 8.5 per cent in 2010 over 2009.
Referring to incidents of human trafficking, the Home Ministry report said a total of 3,422 cases under different heads of human trafficking were reported during 2010 as compared to 2,848 in 2009, an increase of 20.2 per cent.
The Pioneer
Friday, 06 April 2012 23:51
Staff Reporter | New Delhi
Three contestants, who have for years have moved around with brooms cleaning, have now taken the batons in their hands to clean up the wards.
Out on the field to show some Gandhigiri, they feel that one should not hesitate in cleaning one's own home and one's own colony. The three class four employees have been given tickets by Delhi Congress for contesting the municipal elections.
The Congress party has given tickets to three sweepers from the seats reserved for Schedule Caste. Nirmala who has worked as a sweeper in the earlier years is contesting the elections from Kheda, municipal ward number 140 in South West Delhi. "There is so much that I need to do in the ward. I want to make my ward spick and span," says Nirmala. Though belonging to the reserved class and having worked as a cleaner in the earlier years of her life, Nirmala does not hesitate and says, " When Bapu could do his own cleaning, why can't we." Nirmala, who is also the president of the local Mahila Congress Committee, feels that cleanliness of the area will be her key priority. Even when not a councillor, Nirmala takes the credit of providing pension to several women and senior citizens of the area.
Raj Kumar Bahot, 46, till a year ago was a lab technician at the Guru Nanak Eye Hospital. He is now contesting the election from Chhawla ward on the Congress ticket. Bahot claims that his association with the Congress has been for 20 years. "Besides the party name, I have a rapport of my own. People have known me in the area and I have been working for them," he says. Bahot's claims that when he was working with the Guru Nanak Eye Hospital, he had provided free and convenient treatment to several people of the area. "As we grow old, we all need to see an ophthalmologist at some point of time. With my associations with the eye hospital, I ensure that all people in my locality get proper treatment at the hospital," adds Bahot.
The Times Of India
Uttar Pradesh plans scheduled caste status for 17 OBC sub-castes
Pankaj Shah, TNN | Apr 9, 2012, 04.31AM IST
LUCKNOW: The Samajwadi Party government is gearing up to include 17 OBC sub-castes into the scheduled castes.
A high-level committee headed by Uttar Pradesh chief secretary Jawed Usmani has sought details from the department of social welfare before issuing a notification in this regard. The circular from the UP chief secretary on March 28, too, speaks of the government's priorities, including the inclusion of 17 OBC sub-castes within the SC category.
If the 17 OBC sub-castes move to the SC category, the SP benefits from votes of both the OBCs, whose space within the reservation system increases, and the sub castes, who get more opportunities as SCs. While the OBCs have 27% reservation, the SC/STcategory has 22.5%. The move was one of SP's poll promises during the assembly elections.
According to official sources, chief minister Akhilesh Yadav may even take up this issue at a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi on April 16. The 17 sub-castes which the government wants included in the SC category are Kahar, Kashyap, Kewat, Nishad, Bind, Bhar, Prajapati, Rajbhar, Batham, Gaur, Tura, Majhi, Mallah, Kumhar, Dheemar and Machua.
The move also marks the SP's strategy to consolidate the votes that drifted away following an overwhelming dominance of Yadavs over a period of time. The sub-castes proposed to be included in the SC category essentially constitute the most backward castes (MBCs) within the OBCs. 

The SP government in 2005 had amended the UP Public Services Act, 1994, to include as many as 17 castes from the OBCs in the SC category. But, since the power to declare any caste as 'scheduled' rests with the Centre, the then UP government's decision, taken without the Centre's consent, proved in fructuous. The Allahabad high court later quashed the decision, leaving these castes in the lurch.
The Hindu


Missing from the Indian newsroom

Robin Jeffrey
The media's failure to recruit Dalits is a betrayal of the constitutional guarantees of equality and fraternity.
There were almost none in 1992, and there are almost none today: Dalits in the newsrooms of India's media organisations. Stories from the lives of close to 25 per cent of Indians (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) are unlikely to be known — much less broadcast or written about.
Unless, of course, the stories are about squalor and violence. An analyst once summed up the treatment of African-American and Hispanic issues in the American media: such people "rarely travel, eat or get married," if all you knew about them was what you learned from the media.
Is it a calamity that Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are almost completely absent from newspapers and television? Of course it is. It's a calamity for at least three reasons.
First, it means that the Constitution is not being lived up to. The Constitution promises "equality" and "fraternity." There's something deficient about "equality" if a quarter of the population is missing from the Fourth Estate. And it's hard to fraternise — to practise fraternity — with people who aren't there.
Second, a fitting presence in newsrooms, and the varied coverage that it brings, mitigates the resentment of people who are ignored and discriminated against. Recognition of tribulations and achievements combats discrimination. And if meaningful changes do not happen, resentment will bubble up destructively — as it already does in areas of Maoist influence in eastern India. Constant, probing stories about the triumphs and agonies of people on the margins help to effect remedies and turn barriers into bridges.

A section overlooked

Third, genuine media people, who believe in the old New York Times tag about ferreting out "all the news that's fit to print," can never be satisfied with producing a newspaper, a magazine or a bulletin that robotically overlooks a quarter of the population (except when there's violence and squalor of course). Grizzled city editors (city editors are always grizzled) used to pose a single question to self-satisfied reporters at the end of the day: "What REALLY happened out there today, boys and girls?" It ought to flash in lights in every newsroom.
The Dalit absence from the media has been focussed on sporadically since 1996. That's when Kenneth J. Cooper, the Washington Post correspondent, himself an African-American, tried to find a Dalit media person in New Delhi. Cooper wrote about his failure to do so, and B.N. Uniyal publicised Cooper's inquiries in the Pioneer. "Suddenly, I realised," Uniyal wrote, "that in all the 30 years I had worked as a journalist I had never met a fellow journalist who was a Dalit; no, not one."

Not a single SC, ST

Nothing had changed by the time I published India's Newspaper Revolution in 2000. Nothing had changed by 2006 when a survey on the 10th anniversary of the Cooper-Uniyal inquiry found not a single SC or ST among more than 300 media decision-makers. And nothing much had changed a year ago when the Tamil journalist, J. Balasubramaniam, wrote a personal account in theEconomic and Political Weekly.
Kenneth Cooper, now a media consultant and editor based in Boston, began a distinguished career on the St Louis American, an African-American daily that was commercially successful. If there are similarities between the plight of African-Americans in the past (and present) and Dalits today, then why are there no Dalit-oriented media voices like Ebony or Essence magazines or the old St Louis American or Chicago Defender?
Part of the answer lies in the fact that Dalits lack advantages that Black America enjoyed (though "enjoy" is hardly the right word) even in the 1920s. Most important was a black middle class of shop-owners and professionals. Such people could buy advertisements and put up capital to back a publication. Black America worked in a single language, English, and had networks of churches and their pastors who provided respected leaders, education and connections. Martin Luther King was one of many. Black America was also less divided internally: caste among African Americans was not a problem, though skin tone may have been.
If you're inclined to say, "Good journalists, regardless of caste, cover stories objectively" or "Quotas and reservations are the bane of modern India — only ability counts," consider the nationalist experience. Did the old elites who confronted British rule feel they were satisfactorily represented in The Statesman and the Times of India? They didn't. And The HinduAmrita Bazar Patrika, the Hindustan TimesYoung India and many others were the result. Babasaheb Ambedkar said it well: "with the press in hand it [is] easy to manufacture great men."
What might be done to put a Dalit presence into media? Two suggestions. Neither an answer, but both worth considering.

Two suggestions

To begin with, the Editors' Guild could commit itself to carrying out an annual census of newsroom diversity of the kind that the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) began in 1978. In that year, "people of colour" were 4 per cent of people in U.S. newsrooms, though they were close to 30 per cent of the American population. The target was to reach more than 20 per cent by 2000. They missed the target. In 2011, "minorities" were about 13 per cent of American newsrooms, though they constituted 36 per cent of the U.S. population. (That includes African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asians). The new ASNE target date has been set to 2020.
Such targets in India would be difficult. (Targets, remember. Not "reservations" or "quotas"). Caste is so raw and sensitive. But if major organisations took a lead in conducting and publishing an annual audit of diversity, and included women and Muslims in such an audit, an embarrassment factor would kick in. Lesser organisations might feel obliged to follow or be singled out for ridicule.
A middle class is growing slowly among people at the bottom of India's pyramid (BOIP). People near the bottom, most of whom are Dalits, need a publication that looks at the world from their perspective — bottom up, not top down. A BOIP middle-class needs a first-class publication — an Ebony or an Essence, two of the glossy magazines of Black America that report achievements as well as outrages.

Classy & different

A slick, view-from-below magazine (English and Hindi) would cover stories from the margins in ways that people at the margins would recognise. And its journalism could be so compelling that others would want to read it for its classiness and its difference. In a tiny, budget-conscious way, the Dalit-focussed publisher, Navayana, already tries to do this in the book trade.
Such a publication would need to be run by a trust, and some of the capital would need to come from a Dalit middle-class itself. But the corpus of the trust could be built from donations from people-of-goodwill from all backgrounds and from one-off contributions from governments. Rs. 100 crore would make a realistic target — a mere $20 million, the cost of a couple of mid-priced battle-tanks or a small slice of 2G spectrum.
What about television? For about a year-and-a-half before I first came to India in 1967, I wrote a daily television column for a small-town newspaper in western Canada. I watched a lot of U.S. and Canadian television. There were no Black people on TV. When I came back to North America in 1970, Flip Wilson, an African-American comedian, had a popular TV show. Something dramatic had happened. Thirty-eight years later, the U.S. elected a Black President.
Are there any Dalits anchoring a programme or going regularly to camera on a major Indian television channel? My contacts tell me there aren't. It will be a big moment when that changes — and a daunting burden on the person who breaks that barrier.
Achieving "equality" and "fraternity" in India may be harder even than the path that African Americans have had to follow. There are more divisions, fewer resources and huge disparities. But until there is diversity on television screens and printed pages, the promises of the Constitution will be unfulfilled, unthinking prejudice will persist and simmering resentment will grow. Media diversity is a matter of national self-interest as well as justice.
(Robin Jeffrey is Visiting Research Professor, Institute of South Asian Studies and Asia Research Institute National University of Singapore. The article is based on the Rajendra Mathur Memorial Lecture delivered in New Delhi on 31 March, 2012.)
The Indian Express
Life lessons from Jagjivan Ram
Mon Apr 09 2012, 03:13 hrs
His identification with people's struggles is a world away from today's careerist politicians
No matter what yardstick you apply to judge Jagjivan Ram, he was one of the greatest leaders India has ever seen. A man who had experienced the brutality of the caste system, he came close to creating history by becoming the first Dalit prime minister in 1977. He gave up his claim in order to make way for a consensus candidate and became deputy PM instead. He was a parliamentarian par excellence, an able administrator, a reputed scholar and a great orator.
He was first nominated to the Bihar provincial council after popular rule was introduced and SCs were given representation in legislatures under the Government of India Act of 1935. Then, from 1946 onwards, he remained in Parliament for an uninterrupted 40 years. He took oath as the youngest minister in the provisional government headed by Nehru in 1946, and then he remained a cabinet minister for 34 years. These are, undoubtedly, great achievements. But he is not remembered only because of the positions he occupied at the highest echelons of power — rather, the warmth and affection he evokes are because of his identification with the downtrodden and those discriminated against. That is why he has found a place in the hearts of poor masses, as a symbol of their hopes and aspirations.
This assimilation into Dalit identity was natural for him. As a student, he suffered persecution in the name of caste. During his days at Benares Hindu University he was even denied haircuts by local barbers. Because of such experiences, he fully understood the horrendous discrimination and frustrating denial of opportunities in all spheres of life that millions of Dalits were subjected to. These circumstances made him committed to fighting the caste system. While at BHU, he organised students belonging to SCs to protest caste-based discrimination. He was also instrumental in the formation of All India Depressed Class League, an organisation dedicated to achieving equality for untouchables. His meeting with Madan Mohan Malaviya in 1925 marked a turning point, and it was Malaviya who facilitated his entry to BHU with a scholarship. As a member of the constituent assembly, he played a pre-eminent role in incorporating effective provisions to safeguard the rights and interests of deprived classes. His contributions were significant in ensuring that the Constitution prohibited the practice of untouchability or caste-based discrimination. He was instrumental in the formulation of the Civil Rights Act of 1955. Along with others, he played a crucial role in providing for reservation in public employment, and reservation of seats in legislatures for SCs and STs — a provision that helped marginalised sections in a big way. However, the brazen privatisation that is taking place today is snatching away these benefits. The large number of vacancies in Central and state government services have led to further erosion of opportunities available via reservation. Hard-won gains are being taken away through the back door. The situation has become much more complex than the period in which the idea of reservation in public employment was evolved. We need to interpret and develop the concept of reservation in order to address the new challenges — it is in this context that demand for reservation in employment in the private sector becomes extremely relevant.
Despite earnest efforts by leaders like Jagjivan Ram, various forms of discrimination still prevail, including the worst forms of caste oppression, like honour killings. Dalits and tribals have been subjected to acute economic exploitation. Their land and livelihood are under unprecedented attack. Unless the struggles initiated by leaders like Babuji are properly developed and linked to demands like land reforms and movements for economic emancipation, things will remain unchanged or become worse.
The most outstanding feature of Babuji's political personality was his deep connection with the masses. There was an incident in 1977 that proved his immense popularity. In an attempt to prevent a massive public turnout at a rally to be addressed by Jagjivan Ram, Doordarshan, then a sarkari channel, screened the blockbuster Bobby as their Sunday evening film. However, tens of thousands of people poured into his rally, and a newspaper headline put it like this: "Babu beats Bobby". Jagjivan Ram's popularity contrasts sharply with the disconnect between modern drawing room leaders and the people. He lived all his life as one among the people, learned from them, taught them and led them from the front. The fact that he won eight successive general elections is proof of his mass appeal. Compare this with the practice of our current leaders avoiding the inconvenience of facing people in Lok Sabha elections, and taking the back-door route of the Rajya Sabha to power. For the technocratic, professional and billionaire leaders of our time, who land directly in the safe havens of power, politics is merely a better career option. For people like Jagjivan Ram, politics was part of the life and struggle they waged and an effective means to serve the people. Jagjivan Ram's image evolved out of his long and close association with the masses. In contrast, our new leaders manufacture and nurture their image through media management and deliberate marketing techniques.
His success as an administrator owes to his extraordinary political wisdom, derived from his vast experience of working among the masses. He handled portfolios as diverse as labour, food and agriculture, railways, communications and defence. He was defence minister during the Bangladesh War of 1971. As minister for agriculture, he played a vital role in implementing the Green Revolution. As an administrator, he acted swiftly but in a humane and democratic manner. He never bulldozed policies and decisions through. Despite being continuously in power for decades, he was never infected with intellectual arrogance, intolerance of power or inaction. He was accommodating, responsive and always strove towards consensus.
For this generation, which has rarely seen leaders like Jagjivan Ram, his life and work provides immense possibilities to understand the art of practising politics. You may or may not agree with his politics, but cannot ignore the valuable lessons his admirable political life offers.
The writer is a CPM MP in the Lok Sabha

.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. 

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