In what has been called Asia's hidden apartheid, entire villages in many Indian states remain completely segregated by caste. Caste-based abuse is also found in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Japan, and several African states.
In support of its assertions of Dalit abuse in India, the Human Rights Watch has documented the following abuses:
* Over 100,000 cases of rape, murder, arson, and other atrocities against Dalits are reported in India each year. Given that Dalits are both reluctant and unable (for lack of police cooperation) to report crimes against themselves, the actual number of abuses is presumably much higher.
* India's own agencies have reported that these cases are typically related to attempts by Dalits to defy the social order, or demand minimum wages and their basic human rights. Many of the atrocities are committed by the police. Even perpetrators of large-scale massacres have escaped prosecution.
* An estimated forty million people in India, among them fifteen million children, are bonded laborers, working in slave-like conditions in order to pay off a debt. A majority of them are Dalits.
* According to government statistics, an estimated one million Dalits are manual scavengers who clear feces from public and private latrines and dispose of dead animals; unofficial estimates are much higher.
* The sexual slavery of Dalit girls and women continues to receive religious sanction. Under the devadasi system, thousands of Dalit girls in India's southern states are ceremoniously dedicated or married to a deity or to a temple. Once dedicated, they are unable to marry, forced to become prostitutes for upper-caste community members, and eventually auctioned into an urban brothel.
Although there are laws in India to deal with caste-related problems of bonded labor, manual scavenging, devadasi, and other atrocities against Dalit community members, the reality is that such laws are widely ignored by the law-enforcement agencies and the perpetrators.
|Source: World Values Survey and Washington Post|
The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) now includes discrimination based on caste. Dating back to 1969, the ICERD convention has been ratified by 173 countries, including India. Despite this, and despite the United Nations Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights reiterating that discrimination based on work and descent is a form of racial discrimination, the Indian government's stand on this issue has remained the same: caste is not race.
Ms. Navi Pillay, the South African judge who became the United Nations high commissioner for human rights last year, recently told Barbara Crossette of the Nation a story about a group of women who came to her in Geneva recently with a brick from a latrine they had torn down in protest against being forced to carry away human excrement in their bare hands. They wanted to make the point that despite India's frequent assertions that untouchables," who call themselves Dalits ("broken people"), were no longer condemned by birth to do this job, there were still tens of thousands of such latrines in the country, and the filthy, soul-destroying work continues.
Judge Pillay, a South African citizen of Indian descent, now wants to force the issue of caste the UN. "This is the year 2009, and people have been talking about caste oppression for more than a hundred years," Pillay says. "It's time to move on this issue."
Caste is now on notice: the UN has failed, she said, to educate people and change mindsets to combat the taint of caste. "How long is the cycle going to go on where those who can do something about it say, We can't, because it's the people, it's their tradition; we have to go slowly.
"Slavery and apartheid could be removed, so now [caste] can be removed through an international expression of outrage."
Here is a video about Dalits in India:
Fixing Sanitation Crisis in India
Slavery Survives in South Asia
India Deploys 100,000 Soldiers Against Maoists
Persistent Hunger in South Asia
Female Literacy Lags Behind in India
Female Genocide Unfolding in India
Pakistan’s 42 Hindu couples tie the knot, reports Dawn:
After the success of the first Hindu mass wedding in Karachi last year, 42 couples came together from different parts of Sindh to tie the knot this year. While most of them belonged to Karachi, couples came from as far as Nawabshah, Daharki, Dighri, Thatta, and Hyderabad among other districts of Sindh. The event was organised by Pakistan Hindu Council at the YMCA ground on Sunday evening and all the expenses were borne by the council members to help the less privileged members of their community.
Good news that the indian deficit is continuously increasing and it is higher than that of pakistan.
Indias fiscal deficit more than that of Pak, Lanka
Our Bureau MUMBAI
INDIA has been acknowledged by Standard & Poors as the second-fastest growing economy after China in the Asia-Pacific region . The ratings agency has placed the country at the bottom of a list of 21 nations for running a fiscal deficit as high as 11.1% of its GDP.
At its current ranking, India stands way below its smallerrated neighbours Pakistan (4.4%) and Sri Lanka (8%) which figure in the 11th and 18th slots, respectively. China (3.4%) figures ninth on the list, with Indonesia (0.8%) topping the charts for the year.
This trend also partly explains why India did not get any positive ratings review this year, though neighbours Pakistan and Sri Lanka did. In an interview to ET, Suzanne Smith, MD ratings of south and Southeast Asia, said: In February 2009, the outlook on the rating (for India) was changed from stable to negative, reflecting a deteriorating fiscal outlook, resulting from an expansionary shift in government spending. The foreign currency rating on Pakistan was raised in August due to improved external liquidity and progress in fiscal deficit reduction.
anon: "Indias fiscal deficit more than that of Pak, Lanka"
I don't think it's good news for Pakistan. The government in Pakistan runs huge twin deficits of budget and trade, and it is forced borrow from IMF, and other nations to make ends meet.
From page 26 of Unesco report:
Caste systems in South Asia disadvantage many
children (Box 4). One striking example comes from
India, where researchers found that children from
low-caste families performed at far lower learning
achievement levels when their caste was publicly
announced than when it was not revealed. The findings
demonstrate the impact of stigma on self-confidence
and learning levels, and on the treatment of these
children in the school environment.
‘The higher-caste students tell us that we smell bad’, one girl said.
Another added, ‘The ridicule we face prevents us from coming to school
and sitting with higher-caste children’. These girls from the hamlet
of Khalispur, near the city of Varanasi, belong to the Musahar or
‘rat catcher’ community of eastern Uttar Pradesh, India.
Khalispur has a government primary school. Despite an entitlement to
receive a stipend, midday meals and uniforms, few Musahar girls attend.
For these girls, school is a place where they experience social exclusion.
Various forms of discrimination reinforce caste hierarchies in the classroom.
‘We are forced to sit on the floor’, one girl said. ‘The desks and benches in
the classroom are meant for the children from the higher castes’. According
to Musahar elders, government policies have improved but social attitudes
have not: ‘They do admit our children to school and we now have legal
rights, but the behaviour of children from other castes and the teachers
is a problem. Our children do not dare attend the school.’
The experience of the Musahar is a microcosm of a much wider problem.
Most governments have outlawed formal discrimination, but altering
social attitudes has received less political attention, limiting the benefits
of wider social reforms.
Here's a BBC report about Indian police brutality against a Dalit woman in UP:
A policeman in India has been suspended after television channels broadcast images of him beating a woman.
In the footage, the officer is seen slapping the woman and pushing her to the ground as he continues to punch and kick her in a police station.
The woman is a suspect in her husband's murder.
The incident took place in Amethi town in the northern Uttar Pradesh state. The area is represented in Parliament by Congress Party's Rahul Gandhi.
Correspondents say that the beating highlights the widespread problem of police brutality in India.
The footage appears to show an inspector assaulting the 26-year-old woman in full public view.
The woman, a member of the low-caste Dalit community, is accused of murdering her husband, whose body was found in their house on Tuesday.
Reports said the inspector was trying to "force a confession out of her".
A woman constable stood nearby as the suspect was beaten up.
Human rights activists are "appalled by this brutal attack on a woman".
According to Indian law, there are strict guidelines on the arrest of a woman.
A woman suspect can only be handled by a woman police officer and male policemen are not allowed to touch her.
A policewoman has to be present at all times, including during interrogations.
But most of these guidelines are regularly flouted by policemen in India.
There have been thousands of incidents of police brutality recorded in India in recent years, and in many cases, the victims are low caste and poor.
Here's a recent piece describing India's "Sham Democracy":
“Democracy in India is only a top dressing on an Indian soil, which is essentially undemocratic.” Arundhati Roy? Wrong. It’s Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar, the Dalit leader who wrote India’s republican constitution 60 years ago.
Going by Ambedkar’s expressed fears, the Indian republic is like Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Slave’s Dream. It was created by a people that were subjugated by colonialism and its republican ideals were shaped by a human rights pioneer who rose from the lowest layers of the country’s caste heap, a form of slavery in some ways more degrading than apartheid.
India celebrates its Republic Day each year with an hour-long display
of military hardware, which of late has included dummies of nuclear- tipped missiles. The accompanying convoy of floats showcasing the country’s cultural variety (and humour) with everything ranging from ayurvedic massages to tribal dances, to harvest festivals is a more
realistic sample of the country’s anarchy and depth than imported
military arsenal, which guzzles depleted resources, annoys neighbours and contributes to keeping millions of Indians in penury and poor health.
Ambedkar’s fear of an inhospitable soil that deters rather than
nurtures democracy if left to itself has been vindicated by the
country’s sharp tilt to the right since 1990. His most entrenched
detractors belong to the Hindu right, but the exigencies of the
country’s caste arithmetic, which shores up the parliamentary system,
compels them to woo his followers, if not his legacy.
Here's a report of Haryana protests against inter-caste marriages in India:
“Social life and moral dignity are not legal matters, they are domestic issues which are best resolved by elders,” Mahinder Singh Tikait, former Bhartiya Kisan Union president and prominent Jat leader told the gathering.
In a clear warning to political parties, he said, “We are giving the government one month's time to make the necessary changes [to the Hindu Marriage Act]. Also if any political party or leader, local or national, condemns our resolution or creates any hurdle, we will boycott him forever.”
Denying that khap panchayats have ever issued diktats against couples who marry against gotra norms, Dr. Santosh Dahiya said, “The parents kill their children due to the shame they were bringing on the home by incest. What can a khap do?”
Questioning the authority of courts, she said: “The law is meant to protect society. How can it be superior to social norms and traditions? From Manu smriti to the latest medical findings, it is said children born of inter-gotra marriages are deformed or mentally weak. We will make sure that the scientific tradition is alive.”
The mahapanchayat decided to set up a committee here to protect marriage traditions.
In between the meeting of over 36 khaps from Haryana, parts of U.P., Rajasthan and Delhi, a few leaders blocked a road here in protest saying that the Haryana government would have to assure them that it would write to the Centre seeking an amendment to the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955. It sought a ban on marriages within a three-gotra distance (one cannot marry within one's own gotra, one's mother's gotra and one's father's mother's gotra), in the same village or in any of the adjoining villages.
Some leaders who stated that caste honour was bigger than law, saw the recent court rulings as a conspiracy to curb panchayat rule. “There is a conspiracy to crush them [panchayats] because their fast and fair justice is superior. The media don't even know the meaning of terms like khap or gotra, they just hype a case, completely ignoring the larger concept,” a 28-year-old lecturer of political science in Kurukshetra University said. “Even if the alleged decision to kill them was wrong, it was not for the court to step in, panchayats could have solved it amongst themselves,” he added.
The authority of the Constitution was challenged by virtually every speaker. “We don't want a Constitution or a law that goes against our age-old tradition,” Dada Baljeet Singh Gadhwala, one prominent leader said. “Khaps have been called unconstitutional, but the preamble starts by saying — we the people — and we are the people who firmly believe that a colonial rule cannot be given social sanction. The law should abide by the traditional norms and hence be amended immediately,” he added.
Khaps or traditional caste councils have come under the public scanner over their Taliban-style functioning amid an outcry over their diktats against marriages in the same sub-castes.
Meanwhile, the All-India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA), the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) and the Students Federation of India (SFI) gave a joint statement which condemned the “unnecessary hue and cry being raised about a potential threat to the culture of Haryana in the wake of the court verdict in the Manoj-Babli murder case.”
These organisations claimed that most of the marital disputes were not over marriages within a gotra or within the village. Yet the couples were thrown out of their villages and their parents were publicly humiliated.
Here's an Op Ed in the Hindu on Dr. Ambedkar's death anniversary on April 14, 2010:
If major civilisations make contributions to world history, then the Indian civilisation's contributions include caste, caste discrimination, caste segregation, and caste-motivated brutality; the anniversary of Dr. B. R. Ambedkar's birth, April 14, provides an occasion to look at some of the ways governments respond to caste discrimination.
It appears too, that wherever substantial numbers of people of Indian descent settle, caste discrimination appears. Even the British House of Lords was sufficiently exercised about caste discrimination in the United Kingdom to debate it for specific proscription when the new Equality Bill, now the Equality Act 2010, recently came before them. Although this time the House of Lords did not include caste specifically, the government's earlier statement that the Equality and Human Rights Commission had been asked to research the issue drew the peers' rebuke that the Commission in fact said they had not been asked to do the relevant research; the government were also accused of consulting only with upper-caste groups of British Hindus.
My former tutor, a distinguished British professor of philosophy, would not have been surprised by the government's reluctance to include caste in its anti-discrimination laws. I recall his saying, “The British and the Indian ruling classes understood one another perfectly.” His father had been in the Indian Army between the wars, and he himself only rarely revealed how much he knew about India.
Another British friend told me once of an involvement he had had with a girl at his college. Well into the relationship she suddenly told him she would never marry him, as he was of a low caste. They had parents from the same region of India, they spoke the same South Asian language, and they were both young Britons. But she drew the shadow line.
I recall too, listening to an acquaintance in the Oriental Plaza in Johannesburg as he savaged the now-extinct apartheid régime, raising his voice for the benefit of a couple of stone-faced Afrikaner huisvrouwen who were browsing along the shelves. The young man's aunt, the shop manager, said quietly, “We have our own apartheid, with caste and religion and family.” That reminded me of an earlier conversation with a relative, in which I remarked that in some industrialised countries it could be difficult to tell people's class or occupation from their dress, manner, or speech, especially outside working hours. My relative froze, terrified that his children, destined for U.S. doctorates and gadget-filled mortgages in acceptably white-majority American suburbs, would get involved with ‘unsuitable' people during their studies abroad. That particular relative might have problems if asked whether President Obama's daughters were ‘unsuitable'.
The Government of India, for its part, tries to prevent international discussion of caste. At the UN World Conference Against Racism in Durban in 2001, Indian representatives insisted that caste is not race, that India has legislated against caste discrimination, and that caste as an internal matter must not be discussed at such conferences. The conference adopted the phrase “discrimination based on work and descent.”
The Hindu Op Ed on Dr. Ambedkar's death anniversary on April 14, 2010, contd:
India's intransigence, however, continues. In response to the Strategic Management Plan prepared for 2010-11 by the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), the Government of India notes the Plan's references to caste and adds that as the document was not negotiated the Indian mission in Geneva has been instructed to take the matter up with the UNHCHR. The 160-page document contains only three references to caste. One is a general comment that caste is one form of discrimination in the Asia-Pacific region, another is the inclusion of caste among UNHCHR's thematic priorities for the year, and the third is the observation that caste discrimination is endemic in Nepal.
Furthermore, at the 2009 Durban Review Conference, India rejected a comment on descent, saying it “lacked intellectual rigour” and ignored the drafting history of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD). The Convention's history, however, shows that when it was first drafted in 1965 India's representative both suggested the term “descent” and said the Convention would apply to scheduled castes. In 2009, India succeeded in getting the term “discrimination based on work and descent” removed from the conference outcome document, though an earlier U.N. statement that caste is covered by CERD presumably still stands.
India's position is at best incoherent. The government's periodic report to CERD for 2006 reconfirms its opposition to any equation of caste and race by saying the Indian Constitution distinguishes between the two, and that race had been included in the Constitution because of the “moral outrage of the world community against racism” after the Second World War. This outrage, however, was not shared at the highest levels of government. A former civil servant has publicly described the way the then External Affairs Minister Y. B. Chavan and an aide violated India's own sanctions against South Africa by allowing Indian trade with the apartheid state through the Bank of Bermuda in the mid-1970s.
Domestically, Indian government statements, including replies to MPs, often list the legislation prohibiting caste discrimination as though that eo ipso proves effective action. A single example serves to undermine that. The National Crime Records Bureau's records for the period 1995-2007 show that under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, the police registered 441, 424 crimes, but field-survey estimates suggest that the recorded figure is about one third of the actual figure; for Scheduled Tribes it is about one fifth.
The proposition that caste is solely an internal matter for India is untenable. The U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navanethem Pillay, has said publicly that globally, caste discrimination affects 260 million people; about 170 million of them are in India. In contrast to India, Nepal, until 2007 a Hindu state by constitution, regards caste discrimination as indistinguishable from racial discrimination, and has confirmed that it will work through the U.N. to counter caste discrimination; the European Union has made a similar commitment. The pity is therefore all the greater that India is so dismissive of international cooperation and so unwilling to take the lead over what the Prime Minister himself has called a blot on humanity.
the sad part is the casteism, that is rampant in this region. i heard a story, about a woman maoist sniper, who had played havoc with the security forces. they could not find her for three months, and toll was mounting....one day by sheer luck, they caught her and killed her. she had fallen and the security forces just watched her die, gasping for breath, for they were afraid, that she might detonate a hand grenade. the officer of the troops however took a chance to approach her and give her water. she just spat that water on his face. he says there was a look on her face that he will take with him until his death. she was high up in the maoist hierarchy so the officer went ahead to check her background. he found that she was from a village in srikakulam, in andhra pradesh. she was married at 16. On her first night, it was not her husband who came to her, but the landlord of the place. a 60 year old man abusing a 16 year
old. it is a custom it seemed in that region, that the first night should be with landlord. she lost her mind after that night, recovered , left her husband and wandered ,eventually joining the maoists.
there are many indians here who blame pakistanis. we say Pakistan is going wrong because of its establishment. namely the mullah, military and rich anglican pakistani elite. dont we have that oligarchy here in india! do we not have the upper caste hindus, the landlord, the rich businessmen and the politicians forming an oligarchy? An oligarchy that is simply growing rich by exploiting the vast riches of our soil?
whatever we might say about Pakistan, please understand that atleast some of them, have opened their eyes to this oligarchy. have we in india done that? the answer is no.
there is a company called vedanta resources. it is headquatered in london, and they are billionaires. they want minig rights to a mountain hill in jharkhand, that a real rare find. it has amongst the best Bauxite content. but the gond tribes who are in that area say, our god lives on this hill! we have a temple there, so we will not allow you to mine!
you know what the company management said? We will rebuild a better temple for you in the plains? (take it from our corporate social responsibility account) WOW! great minds these MBA`s are from our management institutes?
we have a temple atop palani hill in tamilnadu. we have been praying over it for few thousand years, if vedanta or anyone tells us, hey there is gold in that mountain you guys better shift, then do you think we will allow that? we will skin those MBA`s right there and hang it to dry.
but then the poor gond tribals and their tribal god? thats fate isnt it?
the officer who told me this story, weeps at the guilt of having killed a poor girl. i left him saying if you carry fighting with guilt, you will get killed.
how many more lives will we corrode?
Here's an NDTV report abut alleged honor killing of an Indian woman journalist:
At 23, Nirupama Pathak seemed to have seamlessly made the transition from her small home-town in Jharkhand to big city life. Read: Delhi journalist murdered: Honour killing?)
Supported by her parents, she arrived in Delhi to study journalism at one of the capital's premier institutes. There, she fell in love with a classmate, Priyabhanshu Ranjan. A job at one of India's best-known newspapers, the Business Standard, followed. On Facebook, she commented on political and personal issues. She was easy-going, unpretentious and helpful.
The roots that seemed to ground her rose quickly to strangle her. Nirupama was a Brahmin, her boyfriend a Kayastha. Where she came from, that was enough to stop everything.
Last week, Nirupama's family summoned her home, insisting that her mother, Sudha, was not keeping well. On Thursday night, Nirupama was found dead in her bedroom at her Jharkhand home. Her family said she had committed suicide by hanging herself. The post-mortem clearly spelled murder by asphyxiation. "There are no external injury marks on her, which means that she was probably pinned down by a few people and then smothered," said P Mohan, a surgeon in Nirupama's hometown of Koderma.
Her mother, Sudha, was arrested for her murder and sent to 14-day jail on Monday. Nirupama's father, Dharmendra, says though the family wasn't pleased with her relationship with Priyanshu, because he was from a different caste, he would never hurt his daughter. "You have to first look at your own caste, then you should look elsewhere... but we only advised her," he told NDTV, reiterating that his daughter's death was a suicide.
Talking about human rights and equality, here's a report from India that all modern professions in India are dominated by Hindu Brahmins. Below is an excerpt from an interview of Dr P Radhakrishnan of the Madras Institute of Development Studies as published by rediff news:
Q: Why do you say that in a hierarchical society, the gene theory won't work?
A: It can only happen randomly. In a hierarchical society, the cultural capital is concentrated at the top. Brahmins are at the summit of the social hierarchy. So, they had all the advantages of society traditionally, though they may not be having the same advantages now.
Cultural capital gets transmitted from generation to generation and over generations, this transmission makes its recipients well-entrenched.
As early as the 1880s, the British administration had reported that a poor Brahmin cannot be compared to a poor untouchable for the simple reason that the poverty of a Brahmin is only economic, but the poverty of an untouchable is both economic and cultural.
Brahmins have cultural capital. That is also the reason that where talent has to be used persistently and assiduously, Brahmins have been shining. It is not that others are dullards. Universally, intelligence is distributed across the entire society. But opportunities are not.
Here's a Times of India report about a dog declared Dalit and abandoned by an upper caste family:
BHOPAL: A dog's life couldn't get worse. A mongrel brought up in an upper caste home in Morena was kicked out after the Rajput family members discovered that their Sheru had eaten a roti from a dalit woman and was now an "untouchable". Next, Sheru was tied to a pole in the village's dalit locality. His controversial case is now pending with the district collector, the state police and the Scheduled Caste Atrocities police station in Morena district of north MP.
The black cur, of no particular pedigree, was accustomed to the creature comforts in the home of its influential Rajput owners in Manikpur village in Morena. Its master, identified by the police as Rampal Singh, is a rich farmer with local political connections.
A week ago Sunita Jatav, a dalit woman, was serving lunch to her farm labourer husband. "There was a 'roti' left over from lunch. I saw the dog roaming and fed it the last bread," Sunita said. "But when Rampal Singh saw me feeding the dog and he grew furious. He yelled: 'Cobbler woman, how dare you feed my dog with your roti?' He rebuked me publicly. I kept quiet thinking the matter would end there. But it got worse," she said.
On Monday, Rampal ex-communicated the dog. A village panchayat was called, whi- ch decided that Sheru would now have to live with Sunita and her family because it had become an untouchable. Sunita Jatav was fined Rs 15,000.
An outraged Sunita and her brother Nahar Singh Jatav rushed to Sumawali police station. They were directed to take the matter to the SC/ST Atrocities police station in Kalyan. "When we went there, the officer asked us why we fed the dog," recalls Nahar. "So we went to the DSP in the SC/ST Atrocities department and submitted a memorandum to him, as also to the district collector. But no one has registered our FIR so far.
DSP SC/ST Atrocities (Morena), Baldev Singh, recalls, "We got a complaint in which it has been alleged that a dog was declared untouchable and a dalit family fined for feeding it. We are investigating the allegation," said the officer.
Read more: Dog cast(e) away after dalit touch - The Times of India http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Dog-caste-away-after-dalit-touch/articleshow/6617039.cms#ixzz10QQz6CQl
Here's a piece by Jacqueline Novogratz saying Pakistan needs more servant leadership:
I'm in the office of Dr. Sono, one of Pakistan's most extraordinary social entrepreneurs. Born a Hindu Dalit or "untouchable," he has worked for his country since his youth and emerged as one of the most important grassroots leaders in Sindh. He runs the Sindh Rural Support Organization, a nonprofit company that has emerged as the leading coordinator of local relief during the floods, providing food, sanitation, water and healthcare to six provinces, and serves 60,000 individuals two hot meals a day. With him are Sabiha Bhutto and Asma Soomro who Dr. Sono introduces as his "commandants." Both women carry serious expressions that give them gravitas and weight. Asma wears a black shalwar and an olive-and-rust-colored tropical print shawl over her head. Saibiha wears red-and-white narrow striped cotton. These two women led others to mobilize 80,000 people during the flood emergency.
I ask what they learned from the experience. Asma responds, "We learned to really go to their level, speak their language, feel what they would feel, and build trust." This is classic social-organizing language. "During these three weeks, I met a 90-year-old woman. She wanted to see how other people were coping in the disaster because she herself had gone through crises and was herself prepared for what might come. This inspired me a lot."
Sabiha speaks as much with her eyes as her hands. She remembers the sense of panic among people in Shikarpur who were understandably terrified by the threat of floods. "I spread calm to the people, and promised that Shikarpur would make it through the floods. I urged them to help those who were really in need." When local residents wanted to cross the river, she stopped them. She could see what others could not -- buffalos flying through the churning rapids, most of them drowning. Her neighbors trusted her, and lives were saved. I ask what she had learned. "I realize what it means to be brave," she answers.
Neither Sabiha nor Asma consider being a woman a hindrance, even in conservative parts of Pakistan. "People know that we are here for them," says Sabiha. "We've earned their trust." Between them, they've delivered sixteen women to the hospital to enable them to give birth during the crisis period.
Dr. Sono jumps in and says, "Last week, I received a phone call from a nearby village. The caller said people were drowning. And you know, I love that village." His eyes twinkle so that you can feel that love. I adore Dr. Sono for being so exquisitely alive and caring. He continues:
I called Sabiha and Asma and told them to go to the village and help people escape before the flood waters came. It was 10:30 at night, and still they went. This is a dangerous area, and women especially can be killed going out at night. But they went. And by midnight, the village was empty and there was not a single drowning.
The conversation turns to Pakistan's future, and what can be done about corruption.
Corruption is a big problem here. But we are seeing changes. We have minimized corruption at the district level, and now we have to translate that to the top level. We also have to focus on educating people at the grassroots, too, so that they begin to question government. This way, we can start to end corruption.
This way, the world can change.
Here's what Roy told the Guardian after the reports of her planned arrest today:
"I spoke about justice for the people of Kashmir who live under one of the most brutal military occupations in the world; for Kashmiri Pandits who live out the tragedy of having been driven out of their homeland; for Dalit soldiers killed in Kashmir whose graves I visited on garbage heaps in their villages in Cuddalore; for the Indian poor who pay the price of this occupation in material ways and who are now learning to live in the terror of what is becoming a police state."
Here's a Guardian story of women's abuse in the name of Hindu religion in India:
Parvatamma is a devadasi, or servant of god, as shown by the red-and-white beaded necklace around her neck. Dedicated to the goddess Yellamma when she was 10 at the temple in Saundatti, southern India, she cannot marry a mortal. When she reached puberty, the devadasi tradition dictated that her virginity was sold to the highest bidder and when she had a daughter at 14 she was sent to work in the red light district in Mumbai.
Parvatamma regularly sent money home, but saw her child only a few times in the following decade. Now 26 and diagnosed with Aids, she has returned to her village, Mudhol in southern India, weak and unable to work. "We are a cursed community. Men use us and throw us away," she says. Applying talcum powder to her daughter's face and tying ribbons to her hair, she says: "I am going to die soon and then who will look after her?" The daughter of a devadasi, Parvatamma plans to dedicate her own daughter to Yellamma, a practice that is now outlawed in India.
Each January, nearly half a million people visit the small town of Saundatti for a jatre or festival, to be blessed by Yellamma, the Hindu goddess of fertility. The streets leading to the temple are lined with shops selling sacred paraphernalia – glass bangles, garlands, coconuts and heaped red and yellow kunkuma, a dye that devotees smear on their foreheads. The older women are called jogathis and are said to be intermediaries between the goddess and the people. They all start their working lives as devadasis and most of them would have been initiated at this temple.
Girls from poor families of the "untouchable", or lower, caste are "married" to Yellamma as young as four. No longer allowed to marry a mortal, they are expected to bestow their entire lives to the service of the goddess.
The devadasi system has been part of southern Indian life for many centuries. A veneer of religion covers the supply of concubines to wealthy men. Trained in classical music and dance, the devadasis lived in comfortable houses provided by a patron, usually a prominent man in the village. Their situation changed as the tradition was made illegal across India in 1988, and the temple itself has publicly distanced itself from their plight.
Chennawa, now 65 and blind, is forced to live on morsels of food given by devotees. "I was first forced to sleep with a man when I was 12," she says. "I was happy that I was with Yellamma. I supported my mother, sisters and brother. But look at my fate now." She touches her begging bowl to check if people have thrown her anything. "My mother, a devadasi herself, dedicated me to Yellamma and left me on the streets to be kicked, beaten and raped. I don't want this goddess any more, just let me die."
Sharia in India? BBC says young Indian couple stoned to death for having an affair:
Police in India say they have arrested eight people for stoning to death a young couple who had a love affair which met with their disapproval.
The accused include the parents of the murdered woman, who died alongside her lover. He came from a lower social group in Uttar Pradesh state.
There have been many cases in India where people have been killed for defying tradition and family honour.
Often these crimes are endorsed, or even encouraged, by village elders.
In the latest instance, police believe that Rajiv Verma and his girlfriend Renu Pal were stoned to death by a mob of about 200 people, including many of the girl's relatives.
The officer in charge of the investigation told the BBC that Renu's mother was suspected of playing a leading role in the killings.
The couple were murdered apparently because of the mob's "shame" that Renu, a student, should fall in love with her teacher, who came from a lower social group or caste.
The police said that community leaders had warned the couple to break off their relationship, but three days before their deaths, they ran off together.
Last month India's Supreme Court warned senior officials that they could be prosecuted if they failed to prevent such killings from taking place.
It said that in some cases village councils had encouraged or even ordered the deaths.
Here's a piece "In Dalit student suicides, the death of merit" by
Vidya Subrahmaniam, published in The Hindu:
New Delhi: He killed himself in his college library, unable to bear the insults and taunts. The suicide note recovered from his coat pocket charged his Head of the Department (HOD) with deliberately failing him and threatening to fail him over and over. Seven months later, a three-member group of senior professors re-evaluated his answer sheet and found that he had in fact passed the test.
Medical student Jaspreet Singh, a Dalit by birth, wanted nothing more than to become a doctor.
Tragically, he fulfilled his ambition posthumously. A year later, his young sister, a student of Bachelor of Computer Application, also committed suicide, heartbroken at the injustice done to her brother.
Shocking details about the January 2008 suicide of the Chandigarh-based student have emerged following recent investigations by Insight Foundation, a Dalit-Adivasi student group that has compiled a list of 18 suicides by Dalit students studying in reputed institutions of higher education across India in the past four years.
The Foundation has also uploaded two documentaries onto YouTube, titled “The death of merit” — one on Jaspreet and the other on Bal Mukund, a Dalit student from Uttar Pradesh, who studied at the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences and committed suicide in March 2010.
Jaspreet was in the final year at the Government Medical College in Chandigarh. He was an excellent student throughout, and had never failed in any subject until he reached the fifth and final year.
This is when his ordeal began. His HOD told him that he might have entered medical college using his Scheduled Caste certificate but he would not go out with a degree.
The professor failed him in Community Medicine, a crucial subject, and told him, according to the suicide note, that he will not let him pass.
Jaspreet had set his heart on a MD degree from the prestigious Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education and Research in Chandigarh. The threat cut short that dream.
Jaspreet's father, Charan Singh, told The Hindu: “I have no reason to live anymore. What more evidence do they want?”
Indeed, the evidence is clinching in this case. Jaspreet's suicide note; a certificate affirming Jaspreet's handwriting from the Directorate of Forensic Science, Ministry of Home Affairs, Shimla; testimonies from Jaspreet's friends; and finally, the re-evaluation of the answer sheet by a three member body of doctors from PGI, Chandigarh. All three doctors, Rajesh Kumar, Amarjeet Singh and Arun Kumar Aggrawal, specialised in Community Medicine – the subject in which Jaspreet was failed. Yet till date, no action has been taken against the guilty HOD or the college.
In Bal Mukund's case, the AIIMS authorities seized on the fact that there was no suicide note. Their version was that Bal Mukund, who had attempted suicide once earlier, killed himself in depression.
But Bal Mukund's parents plaintively ask: “Who and what drove him to depression? He had repeatedly told us that he was harassed because of his caste. He was about to change his name. He also wanted to settle abroad to escape the humiliation of being born a Dalit.”
Here's an excerpt from a post by Indian blogger Namit Arora:
Narendra Modi, Chief Minister of Gujarat, continues to thrive after calling the Dalits ‘mentally retarded children’ who gain ‘spiritual experience’ from manual scavenging. The media has little interest or insight into Dalit lives, nor hires low-caste journalists. Major atrocities against Dalits still go unreported. Law enforcement is often indifferent or worse. There is no effective prosecution for discrimination in employment and housing. A Dalit politician can’t get a majority of upper-caste votes even in South Mumbai. Even among those few elites who read books, how many have read a single novel or memoir by a Dalit? In what is perhaps the most diverse country in the world, there is no commitment to diversity in the elite institutions that decide what is worthy art, music, and literature, or what is the content of history textbooks. In book after book of stories for children, both the protagonist and the implicit audience are elite and upper-caste. Much the same is true of sitcoms, soap operas, and commercials on TV. Dalits are invisible from all popular culture that gets any airtime. The Indian army still has many upper-caste-only regiments. There is nothing like an Indian ACLU. Or a Dalit history month on public TV, or exhibits in museums, that seek to educate the upper-castes about a long and dark chapter of their past (and present). Unless a sizable proportion of elites, benumbed by privilege, open their eyes and learn to see both within and without, can there be much hope?
Here's a report in The Hindu on India's dismal human rights record:
Six months before India's human rights gets reviewed at the United Nations, the Working Group on Human Rights (WGHR) in India released a report painting a dismal picture of its rights record.
The U.N. Human Rights Council examines the rights record of its members on a rotational basis every four years through a peer review process, the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Reports by the civil society, U.N. agencies and the country under review are relied upon during the UPR. India's review is due in May next year.
“The report presents a very bleak scenario of the actual state of human rights across India. The government has shown positive signs in dealing with the U.N. human rights system in the past year. We hope that this change extends to the UPR review in 2012 and beyond. Nothing but a radical shift in economic, security and social policy is needed to meet India's national and international human rights commitments,” said the former U.N. Special Rapporteur and WGHR convener, Miloon Kothari.
“The last four years have seen a marked increase in the deployment of security forces and draconian laws to deal with socio-economic uprisings and political dissent. Conflict is no longer confined to Kashmir and the northeast but also many parts of central India. In all these areas, human rights violations are overlooked and even condoned. The legal framework and practice have entrenched the culture of impunity. People are increasingly losing faith in systems of justice and governance,” cautioned noted human rights lawyer Vrinda Grover.
She felt the military approach and the ongoing conflicts contradicted India's stated position in the U.N. that it did not face armed conflict and pointed out that militarisation was also being used to forward the state's ‘development' agenda.
“Today, our institutions are in disrepair and failing our needs. Our police need urgent reform. Our bar bench and our myriad commissions need much more vigour, commitment and accountability. Every moment reforms are neglected, thousands of tragedies occur and we cannot build a nation on that,” according to Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Executive Director Maja Daruwala.
Here's a NY Times story on "the newest god in the Indian pantheon: money:
Chezi K. Ganesan looks every inch the high-tech entrepreneur, dressed in the Silicon Valley uniform of denim shirt and khaki trousers, slick smartphone close at hand. He splits his time between San Jose and this booming coastal metropolis, running his $6 million a year computer chip-making company.
His family has come a long way. His grandfather was not allowed to enter Hindu temples, or even to stand too close to upper-caste people, and women of his Nadar caste, who stood one notch above untouchables in India’s ancient caste hierarchy, were once forced to bare their breasts before upper caste men as a reminder of their low station.
“Caste has no impact on life today,” Mr. Ganesan said in an interview at one of Chennai’s exclusive social clubs, the kind of place where a generation ago someone of his caste would not have been welcome. “It is no longer a barrier.”
A crucial factor is the collapse of the caste system over the last half century, a factor that undergirds many of the other reasons that the south has prospered — more stable governments, better infrastructure and a geographic position that gives it closer connections to the global economy.
“The breakdown of caste hierarchy has broken the traditional links between caste and profession, and released enormous entrepreneurial energies in the south,” said Ashutosh Varshney, a professor at Brown University who has studied the role of caste in southern India’s development. This breakdown, he said, goes a long way to explaining “why the south has taken such a lead over the north in the last three decades.”
India’s Constitution abolished discrimination on the basis of caste, the social hierarchy that has ordered Indian life for millenniums, and instituted a system of quotas to help those at the bottom rise up. But caste divisions persist nonetheless, with upper castes dominating many spheres of life despite their relatively small numbers.
It remains to be seen if the political agitation around caste in northern India will produce prosperity for lower caste people there, experts say. In India’s liberalizing economy these communities must prepare themselves to compete, not simply demand a bigger slice of the shrinking government cake, said Rajeev Ranjan, the chief bureaucrat in charge of industrial development in Tamil Nadu.
He is originally from Bihar, a northern state thoroughly in the grip of caste politics, but he has been stationed in the south for 25 years. He said northern states must heed the southern example. “Without that kind of social change it is very hard to do economic development,” he said. “One depends on the other.”
I was so hurt when I read this:
Voice of the oppressed
Ali Anwar is the founder of the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz (‘Marginalised Muslim Front’), a union of several Dalit Muslim and Backward Caste Muslim organisations. A well known journalist, he is the author of Masavat Ki Jang (‘The Struggle for Equality’) and Dalit Musalman (‘Dalit Muslims’) and writes regularly on issues related to Backward Caste/Dalit Muslims, who form the majority of the Muslim population in South Asia. In this interview he talks about his involvement in the struggle for the rights of Backward Caste/Dalit Muslims. Read more at.....
This is so sad. Hope it gets better.
HWJ: "Ali Anwar is the founder of the Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz"
I guess he'd be better of in India if he dropped "Muslim" from it and stuck by his "Dalit" label.
According to the report, produced by a committee led by a former Indian chief justice, Rajender Sachar, Muslims are worse off than the Dalit caste, or those called untouchables. Some 52% of Muslim men are unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men. Among Muslim women, 91% are unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 can not read or write. While making up 11% of the population, Muslims account for 40% of India’s prison population. Meanwhile, they hold less than 5% of government jobs.
It's Shocking. Village council order boycott of Dalits....
This vile Caste oppression continues in India...
India is going to go nowhere until they eradicate this horrific caste-based apartheid from its very roots.
What India really needs is a Pol Pot who will physically level this evil social-hierarchy with brute force.
^^Anon: "Good news that the indian deficit is continuously increasing and it is higher than that of pakistan..."
^^RH: "I don't think it's good news for Pakistan...."
I would like to congratulate you on this response. You have shown clear, rational thinking here.
For some strange reason, a lot of people do not seem to understand a very simple idea: A negative for India does not AUTOMATICALLY imply a positive for our country (or the other way around).
The fact that children go hungry in India does not feed children in our country. The fact that India's schools are failing does not guarantee success for ours. The fact that India's economy is slowing does not lead to faster growth in our economy.
It is NOT a zero-sum game.
Vicious, hateful apartheid of untouchables....
I find it impossible to call any society "civilized" when it has evolved structures like this. It is fundamentally evil. Shame on these oppressive people.
Such societies are DOOMED to failure.
According to World Values Survey done by two Swedish researchers, India, Jordan, Bangladesh and Hong Kong by far the least tolerant.
In only three of 81 surveyed countries, more than 40 percent of respondents said they would not want a neighbor of a different race. This included 43.5 percent of Indians, 51.4 percent of Jordanians and an astonishingly high 71.8 percent of Hong Kongers and 71.7 percent of Bangladeshis.
Unfortunately, the Swedish economists did not include all of the World Values Survey data in their final research paper. So I went back to the source, compiled the original data and mapped it out on the infographic above. In the bluer countries, fewer people said they would not want neighbors of a different race; in red countries, more people did.
Pakistan, remarkably tolerant, also an outlier. Although the country has a number of factors that coincide with racial intolerance – sectarian violence, its location in the least-tolerant region of the world, low economic and human development indices – only 6.5 percent of Pakistanis objected to a neighbor of a different race. This would appear to suggest Pakistanis are more racially tolerant than even the Germans or the Dutch.
#India largest democracy or slavery? India (14 million), #China (2.9m), #Pakistan (2.1m) on slavery's list of shame. http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/17/world/global-slavery-index/
#India's campaigners welcome #EU resolution to end caste-based #apartheid in #India
http://gu.com/p/3jf8c/tw http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/11/dalit-victims-of-apartheid-in-india.html #Dalit
From: Asian Age
Mandela has exited the world, but Indian apartheid engendered by caste has not vanished and we have had no Mandela after Ambedkar. We certainly need one. Mandela was a champion of human rights and once he met with success he adopted the route of reconciliation with the white colonisers. In present-day South Africa, black rulers treat the whites as citizens and not as historical enemies. The blacks and whites are friends and comrades in the process of transformation and development of South Africa. Mandela, thus, is a symbol of uncompromising fight and reconciliation.
India did not face such a challenge from its white colonial masters because they left the country following Independence. But we had a caste-apartheid that needed a fight and reconciliation. Power was transferred to the Indian Whites — the upper castes — who were the torchbearers of the freedom struggle.
Ambedkar worked out a reconciliation principle through instruments of reservation and anti-untouchability laws, but caste as an instrument of graded apartheid remained intact. The anti-untouchability reconciliation did not work because the Hindu spiritual system does not espouse reconciliatory ideology in its body of literature.
Mandela’s task became easier because of the common Christian ethic that knits the blacks and whites. Once the whites started attending Church, where the blacks were pastors, and started dining together — Mandela’s reconciliation theory took roots.
But reconciliation between dalits and upper castes remains elusive in our country. For this, Ambedkar cannot be blamed. To liberate dalits he left Hinduism, even then no reform took place. Mandela, on the other hand, had to tell the whites to become better Christians and the reformation continues.
Fortunately, for Mandela, the Church had undergone a massive transformation by the time he pronounced his reconciliation. The Church was gradually evolving into a reconciliatory institution and this legacy helped Mandela. There were a number of white leaders in South Africa who were feeling guilty of practising racism and were declaring it un-Christian. The fifth century St. Augustine (354-430 A.D.), who was Pope, was said to have been a West African black. http://www.asianage.com/columnists/sowing-seeds-reform-355
Police in India's West Bengal state have arrested 13 men in connection with a gang rape of a woman, allegedly on orders of village elders who objected to her relationship with a man.
The 20-year-old woman has been admitted to a hospital in a critical condition.
Unofficial courts in India's villages often sanction killings of couples deemed to have violated local codes.
Scrutiny of sexual violence in India has grown since the 2012 gang rape and murder of a student on a Delhi bus.
July 2012: Asara village in Uttar Pradesh state bans love marriages and bars women under 40 from shopping alone, using mobile phones outside, and orders them to cover their heads when outdoors
May 2011: Eight people arrested in Uttar Pradesh for stoning to death a young couple who had a love affair
September 2010: A Dalit (formerly "untouchable") woman in Madhya Pradesh is ordered to pay 15,000 rupees ($330) compensation to the high-caste owners of a dog for feeding their pet. The owners say the dog became "untouchable"
August 2010: Village elders in West Bengal order a woman to walk naked in front of large crowds for having "an illicit love affair with a man from a different community"
June 2009: A Muslim woman and her Hindu husband kill themselves after the local village council orders them to annul their marriage or face death
In another time, another place, Sai Ram might have escaped serious harm. But he died in great pain last week, a casualty of a bitter, barely reported conflict that still claims many lives every year.
Ram, 15, was a goatherd in a village in the poor eastern Indian state of Bihar. He was a Dalit, from the lowest rung of the caste hierarchy that still defines the lives, and sometimes the deaths, of millions of people in the emerging economic power.
His alleged killer, currently being held by local police, is from a higher landowning caste. He took offence when one of the teenager’s goats strayed on to his paddy field and grazed on his crops. Ram was overpowered by the landowner and a group of other men. He was badly beaten.
Then petrol was poured over him and lit, Ram’s father, Jiut Ram, said. “He was crying for help, then went silent,” the 50-year-old daily wage labourer told the Guardian.
The incident took place at Mohanpur village, about 125 miles (200km) south-west of Bihar’s capital, Patna, in an area known for caste tensions. It was the latest in a series of violent incidents that have once again highlighted the problems and discrimination linked to caste, particularly in lawless and impoverished rural areas.
Earlier this month, five Dalit women were allegedly gang-raped by upper-caste men in central Bihar’s Bhojpur district. In September, hundreds of Dalit families were forced from their homes in two other districts of Bihar after a man from the community tried to contest a local election against higher caste candidates.
Several political, social and economic factors usually lie behind such upsurges in caste-related violence. One reason for Bihar’s recent incidents may be the appointment in May of Jitan Ram Manjhi, a Dalit, as the chief minister of the state.
Since taking power Manjhi has announced measures to help other Dalits in Bihar, one of India’s poorest states, and is reported to have urged the community to have more children to become a more powerful political force.
Dalits account for some 15% of Bihar’s population of 103.8 million.
The chief minister’s call was not well received by members of other castes, local observers said.
Sachindra Narayan, a prominent Patna-based social scientist with the National Human Rights Commission in Delhi, said: “The prime reason [for the violence] is that [Dalits] feel empowered after seeing someone from their community at the head of the state and have begun to assert their rights. This is purely a retaliation from the dominant social groups.”
Manjhi claims a temple in northern Bihar was ritually cleaned and idols washed with holy water after his visit to the shrine. Such ceremonies are still performed by upper castes to eradicate “pollution” left by lower-caste visitors.
“A deep-rooted bias prevails against … those from the downtrodden sections of society … I have myself been a victim of caste bias,” the 70-year-old said.
Opponents claim Manjhi was stoking caste tensions for political advantage.
In the vast neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh, caste is also a major political issue, with power contested by two parties that broadly represent two different caste communities. That of Mayawati explicity campaigns for Dalits, while the ruling Samajwadi party is seen by many as representing the Yadavcommunity, once pastoralists.
Caste became a factor in recent national elections too. The prime minister, Narendra Modi, comes from a poor family from the lower-caste Ghanchicommunity, which is associated with selling oil. His rise from humble origins to leader of 1.25 billion people has inspired many – but also provoked scorn from elite politicians who have mocked his background.
The origins of caste are contested. Some point to ancient religious texts, others to rigid classifications of more local definitions of community and identities by British imperial administrators. The word “caste” is of Portuguese origin....
Thenmozhi Soundararajan: fighting the #Dalit women's fight with, activism #dalitwomenfight #India #racism #caste http://gu.com/p/46hz6/stw With fists in the air and placards in hand, women who have been raped, burned, stripped naked and set on fire have gathered around India to demand that their government acknowledge the crimes committed against them and work to stop other women from facing the same fate.
They are also fighting for their ancestors, who were deemed untouchable before the government abolished the use of the term in 1949.
Many of these Dalit women lack the resources for efficient telecommunication, so they gather in districts near the statue of BR Ambedkar, a legendary Indian politician and former Dalit leader. Police are often nearby, including officers who the women believe are ignoring their rape accusations and sometimes abetting them.
With these women – taking their photo, supporting their stories and spreading their message to the rest of the world – is Dalit-American artist Thenmozhi Soundararajan. She is a transmedia artist, which means she creates and translates stories across platforms. It also means that for her, everything about the #Dalitwomenfight movement – from social media posts to professional photography to security training for its participants – is an art form. .........................
Soundararajan believes the sexual violence inflicted on Dalit women underlies a systemic issue with how women in the country are treated. “If you have 80 million to 100 million women whose bodies are porous to this violence, then what is going to be expected to the rest of the status of women in the nation?” she said.
India’s reluctance to address its issues with sexual violence was made clear to an international audience in recent weeks when the country banned the documentary India’s Daughter – which examines the gang rape of an Indian national in Delhi . Soundararajan’s work is meant to extend the conversation beyond the rare case that attracts international attention and show how caste-based rape impacts the entire country’s attitude towards sexual violence.
“There is this aimless conversation about rape in India and somehow Indian men are just more sexist and patriarchal, and it’s not about individual cases and individual localities and perpetrators that are out of control,” she said. “What we’re looking at actually is a system where the rule of law is not being implemented for all.”
This troubling (caste) divide has its roots both in the development of the modern Indian state and in the nature of Hinduism and Hindu society. Before political independence and self-determination were on anyone’s agenda, Indian thinkers and public figures were already considering what social democratization would look like in a nation so fundamentally shaped by social hierarchy. And the 19th and 20th centuries saw numerous attempts to bring Indian tradition, especially Hinduism, in line with a vision of a modern liberal—and sometimes explicitly egalitarian—society.
Bhimrao Ambedkar, the chief architect of the Indian constitution and the nation’s first law minister, anticipated the problems that inequality would pose to the development of independent India as a modern democratic state.
Ambedkar’s experience as a Dalit, or “untouchable,” as well as his remarkably rigorous and international education, led him to advocate for social reform, broader access to education and the abolition of the caste system. And when much of that activism proved unsuccessful, he rejected Hinduism altogether.
For those who dreamed of social democratization, the Hindu tradition, so deeply hierarchical, seemed ill suited to modern egalitarian and democratic society. Could Hindu social practices be adapted to a modern democratic world? Or, as Ambedkar finally concluded, was that an impossible task?
The caste system denounced
Like earlier movements that sought to break with orthodox Hinduism (most notably Buddhism and Jainism), reform efforts in the 19th century emphasized direct, unmediated interaction between individuals and the gods—undermining the power of the Brahmins (the highest, priestly caste).
Two major reform movements, the Brahmo Samaj and the Arya Samaj, went further, offering critiques of religious, caste and gender hierarchy and promoting a vision of a more egalitarian and communal faith.
The Brahmo Samaj, founded in 1828, embraced a version of Millian liberalism while seeking to reform Hinduism for modern times. It established a canon of Hindu scripture and denounced many Hindu practices, including the caste system.
The Arya Samaj was heavily influenced by the work of the Brahmo Samaj; in 1875, it translated the Vedas, Hinduism’s ancient Sanskrit holy texts, into vernacular languages and pushed for literacy as a way of building an inclusive religious community. The Arya Samaj favored merit-based castes and social welfare as the vehicles of its egalitarian, pluralistic vision and emphasized the importance of individual religious morality and an attendant social mobility.
The Brahmo and Arya Samaj laid a foundation later built upon by Hindu leaders Swami Vivekananda and Mahatma Gandhi.
Vivekananda, a much-beloved nineteenth-century Hindu monk and philosopher, saw the potential for divinity in every individual and preached the importance of mass education and material improvement to the development of a vibrant, modern Hindu society. Gandhi sought to shift the focus of Hinduism away from the ideal of spiritual renunciation towards a practical commitment to improving society.
Ultimately, the prominence of upper-caste leaders in social reform efforts tempered the movements’ critiques of Hinduism. The more radical movements were led by lower-caste leaders. Most notable among these was the “non-Brahmin” movement in western India during the 1870s and 1880s.
Jotirao Govindrao Phule and his Satyashodhak Samaj (“truth-seeking society”) were the most radical incarnation of this movement, with an emphasis on the lower castes as a moral and historical community that transcended conventional religion. Phule’s rejection of the upper castes and their traditionalist Hinduism placed him in opposition to the Brahmin-led Indian National Congress, which was founded in 1885 as a pro-independence political organization and later came to dominate the political scene.
#Dalit PhD student commits suicide to protest #India caste Apartheid: HRD Ministry seeks to cover up - The Hindu
Denies applying pressure for Rohith Vemula’s expulsion from University of Hyderabad hostel.
As spontaneous protests over the suicide of young research scholar Rohith Vemula in the University of Hyderabad on Sunday spread across the country, the Human Resource Development Ministry under Smriti Irani had to step out and clarify that it had not applied pressure to expel the five Scheduled Caste students following a written complaint from Cabinet Minister Bandaru Dattatreya.
Ms. Irani left for poll-bound Assam on Monday after sending a two-member fact-finding committee to look into the case.
But her Ministry’s clarification has triggered several other questions.
Throughout Tuesday, as it emerged that the Ministry had sent five letters, including four reminders following Mr. Dattatreya’s letter dated August 17 last year — giving the impression that it had put pressure on the administration to expel the five students, four of whom were sons of agricultural labourers — officials said they were only following official protocol of acknowledging VIP letters. Curiously, Mr. Dattatreya’s letter to the Ministry had come despite a clean chit given to the students by the university administration.
In his defence, Mr. Dattatreya explained that he wrote after ABVP students from the campus had approached him.
While the HRD Ministry sought to douse the fires, Social Justice Minister Thawar Chand Gehlot, it was learnt, was upset at the turn of events leading to the scholar’s suicide. The Social Justice Ministry too has sent a fact-finding committee.
Mr. Gehlot also met up with ICSSR chairman Sukhdeo Thorat on Monday who handed him a memorandum submitted by the expelled students. The memorandum was the last in the series of letters the students had sent out following their expulsion from the campus.
Eager to distance themselves from the situation, Ministry officials clarified that they had merely forwarded Mr. Dattatreya’s letter.
“It would be wrong to say that the Ministry put any pressure on Hyderabad University,” they said.
As the HRD Ministry came under fire over the suicide, officials cited the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure.
According to the procedure, if there is a VIP reference (in this case Mr. Dattatreya’s letter), it has to be acknowledged in 15 days and another 15 days may be taken to reply to it.
“Since no response was coming from the University, the Ministry had to send reminders,” spokesperson Ghanshyam Goel said.
The Ministry was hard-pressed to explain why it chose to re-direct letters to the University of Hyderabad, marked anti-national as subject matter of correspondence — giving rise to suspicion that Ms. Irani’s office was taking the lead from Mr. Dattatreya’s complaint referring to the students as ‘anti-nationals.’ The university replied on January 7.
Via @NPR: Student's Suicide Ignites Public Debate Over #India Caste System. #BJPKilledDalitScholar http://n.pr/1UcqrNk
A 26-year-old Ph.D. student killed himself in the southern Indian city of Hyderabad. A Dalit, he was one of five students protesting their expulsion from the university's housing facility.
JULIE MCCARTHY, BYLINE: The body of 26-year-old PhD student Rohith Vemula was found hanging in a student hostel Sunday. He was a member of the Dalit community, once known as Untouchables. His death touched off a furor on social media. His Facebook profile reveals he was a fan of B.R. Ambedkar, the Dalit who helped write the Indian Constitution. Vemula was among five Dalit students at Hyderabad University, members of the Ambedkar Student Association, who were suspended for allegedly brawling with a conservative student group aligned with the ruling BJP party of Nerendra Modi. University officials had earlier cleared Vemula but reversed their decision in December. His stipend withheld, he had been living in a tent outside the campus gate since his suspension. Vemula's appeals to the University went unanswered. Delhi University political scientist Narayan Sukumar says on campuses across India, complaints by Dalit students about discrimination frequently go unheeded.
NARAYAN SUKUMAR: There is a systemic segregation of these particular students, and they are not able to enjoy the equal status of the other upper caste students that they are having in the classroom and outside the classroom.
MCCARTHY: Protesting students say pressure from a federal minister persuaded the university to punish Vemula. The minister alleged that the school had become a den of casteist, extremist and antinational politics. He's since been charged under the law preventing atrocities against castes such as the Dalits. Supreme Court lawyer Sanjay Hegde says that while he believes Vemula's suspension did trigger his suicide, a legal case against the minister is unlikely to succeed.
SANJAY HEGDE: Legally there may not be a case. But ethically, morally, politically, there definitely is a case.
MCCARTHY: On the defensive, the government said today, quote, "there has been a malicious attempt to ignite passions and present this case as a caste battle. It is not." Julie McCarthy, NPR News, New Delhi.
#Dalit family beaten up for accidentally touching #Brahmin man in #India #BJP http://toi.in/17_ADa via @timesofindia #dalitilivesmatter
he curse of untouchability still have deep roots in the country, a truth which can be gauged from the fact, that an entire family of a dalit was beaten with sticks and kicked just because one of the family members accidentally touched the hands of a Brahmin man.
The incident was reported in the remote village of Kyuri village of Pinhat area on Friday afternoon, when a Valmiki family was engaged in a marriage ceremony.
According to Vineeta, a victim of the incident said, "My younger son Sonu had gone to a sweet shop owned by a Brahmin man named Anil Sharma. While giving the payment for the sweets, Sonu accidently touched the hand of Sharma, on which he got infuriated and thrashed my son."
"When Sonu returned home with bruises, he narrated the entire event after which I along with group of women went to sweet shop to protest against the cruelty on mere touching the hand. Later, Anil along with some few more men came to our house and attacked us with wooden sticks. They didn't spare even a pregnant women, who had come to attend marriage ceremony," she claimed. "They kicked her womb after which our family members took her to hospital," she alleged.
As per sources, in the incident, Rekha the pregnant woman, Sonu and his father Hotilal were injured.
Shocking video of two naked ‘#Dalit women’ in #India beaten by ‘upper caste’ women goes viral. #Modi http://ambedkar.in/ambedkar/news/?p=652 … via @drambedkar
A shocking video of two ‘Dalit women’ being subjected to merciless thrashing and public humiliation allegedly women from upper caste has gone viral on social media platforms.
The video is so graphic in nature that we at jantakareporter.com have decided not to broadcast here because of poor taste and decency issue.
In the two naked ‘Dalit women’ can be seen lying in water while two women are constantly thrashing them.
We don’t know where the incident took place and what the reason for their public humiliation was. But nothing will ever justify the humiliation meted out to the victims.
What’s worse is that they are being surrounded by a group of men with most of them busy filming the incident.
Source : http://www.jantakareporter.com/india/shocking-video-two-naked-dalit-women-thrashed-upper-caste-women-goes-viral/40939
#African-American Business Traveler's View: #India ranks way up there among the most ‘#racist’ http://bodahub.com/american-says-india-most-racist/ … via @bodahub
In 2013, the Washington Post released a map based on a study by two Swedish economists that colour coded the map of the earth based on racist attitudes.
The study was simple: they asked people whether they would have a problem with a neighbour of another race. Only two nations – India at 43.5% and Jordan at 51.4% – scored over 40% in racial intolerance.
The question has since become increasingly relevant. As we have written about earlier, Bollywood actors have launched movements that aimed at extolling the beauty of dark skin, politicians have repeatedly made the point. There have been horrific race-motivated attacks on Africans just within the last year even!
Recently, the question was posed on Quora as to which was the most racist country in the world, and Dave Adali, an American, had a poignant and saddening answer to it.
“I am an African-American in the IT field and I have thus far had the good fortune to live and travel extensively throughout Western and parts of Eastern Europe and many countries in Asia. I have lived or traveled in the UK and most of the EU countries as well as Taiwan, Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Japan, Indonesia, Malaysia and several other Asian countries including India.
Of all the countries I have been to, India ranks way up there among the most ‘racist’, IMHO. Indians aren’t so much ‘racist’ as they are intolerant. Indians discriminate against fellow citizens to a degree that I have NEVER encountered in ANY other country. Without a doubt, Indians are the the most color obsessed people I have ever encountered anywhere in the world. No doubt because of all that saturation advertisements for ‘Fair and Lovely’, ‘Fair and Handsome’ and all manners of skin-whitening creams, lotions, soaps etc. Even if you are 100% Indian, your fellow Indians might still discriminate against you on the basis of the color of your skin, which region of India you come from, what language you speak, your religion, your caste etc, etc.
If you are of obvious African ancestry, including African-American, you can find life really, really tough in India if you are going to be in India for a while. Indians can be such unabashed, in your face racists. In the interest of fairness, I should point out that oftentimes, lighter-skinned Indians despise darker-skinned Indians every bit as much as much as they despise us people of African ancestry. Apart from that, there is also considerable antipathy between North Indians and South Indians
Indians outside of India endlessly complain about the intolerance and racism they have to put up with in places like Europe, the US, Canada, Australia, the Middle East and even Africa. These very same Indians conveniently choose to ignore the fact that Indians themselves can be such pathological bigots against their fellow Indians, other Asians and especially people of African ancestry. `. In Amritsar, one of my best friends was Gyan, a Nepali whom I initially mistook for a Chinese. Indians disdainfully call him “Chinki” or “Bahadur”, which Gyan hated. As a matter of fact, Indian citizens from India’s North-Eastern states, who often have Chinese facial features are routinely referred to, usually disparagingly as ‘Chinkis’.
India’s Eternal Inequality
NY Times Contributing Op-Ed Writer
By AATISH TASEER OCT. 12, 2016
I was in Varanasi, India’s most sacred city, conducting research for a book about Brahmins, the priestly caste at the top of the Hindu hierarchy. I was speaking at length to a young student who, like his Brahmin ancestors, was steeped in the study of Sanskrit and the Veda. One day, we drove together to the village where he came from. Our driver on this five-hour journey was a voluble man from the neighboring state of Bihar. Along the way, the driver, the student and I chatted amicably, but as we neared the Brahmin village, our dynamics swiftly changed.
My father was Muslim, and since religion in India is patrilineal, my presence in the Brahmin household should have been an unspeakable defilement. But it wasn’t. I belong to India’s English-speaking upper class and, in the eyes of my host, I was exempt from the rules of caste. As we approached the village, he did make one small adjustment: He stopped calling me by my conspicuously Muslim name, and rechristened me Nitish, a Hindu name.
The visit was going well. But, as evening fell, and we finished dinner with my Brahmin host and his parents, a terrific tension came over the household. Unbeknown to me, the family had made an extraordinary exception: They had allowed the driver, who was of a peasant caste called Yadav, lower in the hierarchy, to eat with us, in their house, using their plates. But now there was something they absolutely could not do.
Caste is a religious notion of spiritual purity that defines one’s function on earth. It comes alongside strict restrictions on how a person can live and what a person can eat and whom they can marry. Caste, or jati, as it is known in Hindi, is a bio-spiritual identity, which has nothing to do with money or power, and offers no escape save for death or renunciation. As Octavio Paz, the Mexican writer and onetime ambassador to India, wrote caste is “the first and last reality.”
India’s last caste census was conducted in the early 1930s, when the country was still part of the British Empire. It found that while Brahmins constituted only some 6 percent of the population, the other lower castes, even without Dalits and the tribal people, who are not part of the caste system, came to as much as 40 percent.
In 2010, Vinod K. Jose, writing in The Caravan, conjectured that the shape of society was roughly the same, and “as a block, the Shudras and untouchables could reach 70 percent of the Indian population.” In 2011, the government conducted a “socio-economic census,” but its findings on caste were never released, in part because the issue is so explosive.
The modern Indian state has tried to correct the imbalances that caste creates. The Constitution bans discrimination based on caste, and the government has instituted quotas for low-caste people in government jobs and at universities. But the wound is so deep that even when this form of affirmative action throws up the odd success story, tragedy can quickly ensue.
The same week that my driver in Varanasi was forced to wash his own plate, the issue of caste roared back to the forefront of Indian political life.
Rohith Vemula, 26, was a Ph.D. student at the University of Hyderabad, in southern India.....
The contradiction presented by caste and nationalism was never clearer than in the searing images that emerged from Mr. Modi’s own home state, Gujarat, in July. They showed Dalit boys being stripped and beaten with iron rods. They were accused of killing a sacred Indian cow. But they claimed they were only skinning a cow that was already dead, work that is typically reserved for people of low caste. The irony could not have been more stark: It was caste on one hand that had forced this occupation upon them, and it was caste that was degrading them further.
Permitting Exclusive #Brahmin-Only Housing Development in #Bangalore, #India Reinforces #Hindu #Caste #Apartheid
A township strictly meant for Brahmins claims to revive the “lost traditions” of the Brahmin community. The architecture, the lifestyle and culture will ensure a “Brahmanic way of life.”
Welcome to The Vedic Village- Shankar Agraharam, a ‘Brahmin only’ housing project that was planned in the outskirts of Bengaluru in 2013.
With the launch of the township, national and international media picked up the story and reported the disturbing trend of ‘segregated housing’ and ‘housing apartheid’ in India. A group of activist lawyers wrote to the state government and human rights commission to immediately scrap the project because it promoted caste-discrimination.
Three years down the lane, Vedic Village is nearing completion and has received the ‘proud’ approval of the Department of Town and Country planning in Karnataka. Project managers even claim to have sold 900 units of the planned 1800 in the integrated township.
The Sanathana Dharma Parirakshana Trust that is funding and developing the project is backed by the Brahmin community. The trust believes in:
emancipation of the living conditions of the Brahmin community and to closely work towards creating a liveable environment, and assets for the future generation of the community. Source: www.vedicgraham.com
The housing project is not open to non-brahmins, but that isn’t the only problem with the project. The website and the brochures repeatedly emphasise that it is a township for the ‘superior’.
Our plots are clearly earmarked for Brahmins only…Our motto, to give the highest to the highest in all respects. Source: www.vedicgraham.com
Can, #religion, #caste be banned from #India's politics? #BJP #congressparty #Modi #Hindu #Sikh #Dalit #Muslim
India is a nation of caste and religion. It is a nation where caste is policy. Upper caste policy is to move upwards, while lower castes continually struggle in their lowly status.
Everything that happens here is based on caste. At every stage of our life caste becomes important. We are unable to understand what is going on in the country if we disregard caste. We also see Justice T S Thakur, who delivered the court ruling, through the eyes of caste because the surname, Thakur, also represents a caste.
When caste is so integral in our society how can we separate caste and religion - a solid foundation - from politics and elections?
There are three main parties in India today: the Congress Party, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Communist Party. The Congress and BJP are outwardly "secular" parties. The BJP promotes itself as the party for Hindus, and on caste issues it says it is "secular". However they choose to self-define, if we search further, we find that the soul of these parties is brahminical, i.e. belonging to the highest caste.
The prominence of caste also applies to politics before India's independence. Priestly Brahmins who controlled the Bania caste - which had close business connections with them - have unjustly benefited from the new political reality, and that is why India's politics is called Brahmin-Bania politics.
In the first days of this year, in a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court of India banned political candidates from seeking election on the basis of caste, religion and language. On the surface, this ruling seems to be appealing to secular voters, upholding the secular values of the constitution and implementing the principles of democracy.
But it also seems to be contradicting a 1995 Supreme Court ruling which considered "Hindutva" (Hindu nationalism) and "Hinduism" a "way of life", rather than an ideology that belongs to a certain caste or religion. The court has been silent on reviewing the Hindutva issue.
There has been praise from seculars on the ruling and respect for the judiciary has further increased among ordinary people. But while the verdict is indeed an important new development, there are still questions about its practicality because caste, like religion, remains an integral part of Indian society.
#Caste Battles Threaten #India’s Grand #Hindu Coalition. #BJP #Modi #UP #Dalit #Rajput
The violence erupted after one April afternoon, when the Dalits in Shabirpur, a village in Uttar Pradesh, about 115 miles from New Delhi, were celebrating the birth anniversary of Bhim Rao Ambedkar, their greatest leader and an architect of the Indian Constitution.
Mr. Ambedkar was instrumental in abolishing untouchability, criminalizing caste discrimination and violence in independent India, and enshrining a system of affirmative action in the Indian laws.
On Mr. Ambedkar’s anniversary millions of Dalits honor him by garlanding his statues, which reproduce an iconic image of the bookish messiah: Mr. Ambedkar wearing a pair of rectangular glasses over a blue three-piece suit, a copy of the Indian Constitution in his left hand, the index finger of his right hand pointing at a distant horizon. For centuries before independence, the Dalits could barely clothe themselves. Mr. Ambedkar’s suit became a negation of that oppression, a symbol of dignity and aspiration.
The upper castes resent the defiant and proud Ambedkar imagery. As the Dalits celebrated in Shabirpur, the Uttar Pradesh village, their upper-caste Rajput neighbors stopped them from installing a statue of Mr. Ambedkar in their temple. They objected that the outstretched index finger of the statue would point toward upper-caste women who would walk past it.
In recent years, to counterbalance the Ambedkar celebrations, the upper castes, especially the Rajputs, began celebrating Rana Pratap, a medieval Hindu Rajput king, who fought several battles against the Mughal Empire, as an ideal Rajput and Hindu nationalistic icon.
Indian festival celebrations often come with processions of believers through public spaces. In polarized regions, they often become occasions for violence between different religious or caste groups.
A few weeks after the Rajputs in Shabirpur village objected to Mr. Ambedkar’s statue, they set out in a procession to celebrate the Rajput king Rana Pratap’s anniversary in an adjacent village. The Rajputs played overtly loud music. The Dalits objected. An argument turned into a violent clash. One Rajput man was killed and more than 20 Dalits and Rajputs were injured. More than 25 Dalit homes were set on fire.
Such violence spells trouble for the Hindu nationalist project. Leaders of India’s Hindu nationalist movement had figured early on that caste antagonism prevented a grand Hindu consolidation. They campaigned for social reforms and for allowing Dalits entry to temples, and promoted shared meals between the upper castes and lower castes, but caste prejudice was deeply entrenched among their followers and change remained superficial. Despite their efforts, the Bharatiya Janata Party and its affiliate groups were always identified with the upper castes.
Marginalized communities in India have their own internal hierarchies. Over the past decade and a half, the B.J.P. developed a new strategy of playing on their internal differences and fragmenting Dalits and other lower castes into smaller, political groups and enlisting the breakaway units into their ambit.
Large sections of Dalits voted for Mr. Modi in 2014 and again for his party in March 2017 state elections in Uttar Pradesh because of the absence of a pan-Indian Dalit political identity. But if upper castes continue violent attacks on Dalits irrespective of their sub-castes, it will force consolidation among them.
Recent caste violence has shown that India’s Hindu nationalists are struggling with the challenges of caste. And it will be the eventual hurdle to permanent Hindu consolidation and their continued electoral dominance.
BBC News - The defiance of an 'untouchable' #NewYork subway worker. #India #Dalit #Apartheid #Caste
Ants Among Elephants: An Untouchable Family and the Making of Modern India by Sujatha Gidla
(In New York), she says, she faced racism. And caste was right here too. She says she found "petty caste discrimination" among the Indian community.
The 53-year-old subway conductor has been luckier than most Dalits back home, women especially, who suffer unspeakable cruelty, are employed in menial jobs including cleaning of human excreta and are segregated by their communities.
Unlike most of her lot, her family was "middle class", thanks to the help of Canadian missionaries in her region who aided in education and offered them religion. Her family was thus Christian and benefited with education. Her parents held jobs as college teachers.
Gidla says that proselytization didn't help her lot. "Christians, untouchables - it came to the same thing. All Christians in India were untouchable. I knew no Christian who did not turn servile in the presence of a Hindu."
The book chronicles unflinchingly the caste slurs and segregation Gidla and Dalits like her have to endure in India.
Gidla lists how she and other Dalits are humiliated in India by other castes.
They are forced to eat from separate plates and glasses in eateries; barred from the community's main source of drinking water; allowed to ride a bicycle or wear footwear only in segregated areas; rejected in love and denied opportunities. She recalls her hurt when a junior school classmate refused to touch the sweet she offered. Things like this are constant reminders to Dalits of their status as social outcastes.
Since her teens Gidla was spurred to rebel with her uncle, the rebel Telugu language poet Shivasagar, setting an example. His call to join the Communists and later the guerrilla movement of the region demanding social justice held appeal for the young Gidla.
In America, writes Gilda, "people know only my skin colour, not birth status".
"One time in a bar in Atlanta I told a guy I was untouchable, and he said, 'Oh, but you're so touchable'."
BBC News - #India #Dalit man killed 'for watching #Hindu celebration' #caste #Apartheid http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-41466291
A Dalit (formerly untouchable) man was beaten to death in the western Indian state of Gujarat allegedly for watching people dance as they celebrated the Hindu festival of Dussehra.
Eight men have been arrested for attacking the 21-year-old on Sunday, police told BBC Gujarati.
Some Dalits were beaten up for sporting moustaches in the state last week.
Despite laws to protect them, discrimination remains a daily reality for India's 200 million Dalits.
The victim, identified as Jayesh Solanki was watching a performance of Garba, a traditional dance, with his cousins, when a man approached them, according to the police complaint lodged by Mr Solanki's cousin, Prakash.
"He told us how dare you come here," Mr Solanki alleged in the complaint. "We told him that we came to watch the Garba because our sisters and daughters were participating. But he started abusing us."
The complaint goes on to say the man left and returned with seven others, one of whom slapped Prakash. When Mr Solanki tried to intervene, he was dragged away and beaten.
The men allegedly flung him against a wall causing him to lose consciousness. But they continued to beat him, according to the complainant.
Mr Solanki was taken to hospital but he was pronounced dead on arrival.
Police said they have also provided security to Mr Solanki's family who fear they might be attacked by upper caste men for pursing a case against the accused.
Dalits have traditionally been at the bottom of the Hindu caste system. They have been subjugated by the higher castes for centuries.
#Modi government advised to ‘discredit’ #slavery research that shows half of the world's slaves are in #India. #BJP
Prime minister Narendra Modi pressured to condemn Australian report on modern slavery over fears it could tarnish India’s image
The government of India has been advised to launch a campaign to “discredit” research into the country’s modern slavery problem because it has the “potential to substantially harm India’s image and exports”, according to an Indian news report.
The Walk Free Foundation, an anti-slavery organisation established by Australian mining magnate Andrew Forrest, was specifically singled out in a memo reportedly prepared by the Intelligence Bureau (IB), an Indian security agency, and obtained by the Indian Express.
It was produced days after the release of a report last month by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and Forrest’s Walk Free Foundation that estimated the global population of modern slaves at 40.3m in 2016.
India was not specifically mentioned but successive research has estimated the number of modern slaves in the country to be between 14m and 18m people –the most in the world.
Modern slavery refers to people involved in forced labour, people trafficking, debt bondage, child labour and a range of other exploitative practices affecting vulnerable populations.
According to the Indian Express, the Indian security agency wrote to the prime minister’s office and other high-level government departments advising them to “discredit” the September report and to pressure the ILO to disassociate itself from Walk Free.
The foundation was established by Forrest, one of Australia’s richest men, in 2012. It produces an annual estimate of the number of slaves worldwide, lobbies governments to strengthen and enforce labour laws, and invests in frontline social programs.
The intelligence memo claimed that researchers were increasingly “targeting” India as a modern slavery hub, according to the news report.
It said estimates such as those produced by the ILO and Forrest’s foundation had “potential to substantially harm India’s image and exports and impact its efforts to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 8.7” – a target for eradicating forced and child labour, and human trafficking.
The security agency also said the scale of India’s modern slave population was based on “questionable statistics”, citing the fact the ILO-Walk Free survey interviewed 17,000 people in India but only 2,000 in countries such as Russia, Bangladesh and Pakistan, the report said.
Study: One in two #Indian #Muslims fears being falsely accused in #terrorism cases. #Modi #Hindutva #Islamophobia
A survey by NGO Common Cause and Lokniti shows Adivasis are most afraid of being framed for Maoist activities, while Dalits are afraid of being falsely accused of petty thefts.
New Delhi: The sense of being discriminated against by police is strongest among Muslims, especially those in Bihar, said a study that seeks to analyse the perception about police along state and community lines.
The survey was carried out by NGO Common Cause and Lokniti, a research initiative of the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), among 15,563 respondents across 22 states in June and July 2017.
“Among the total number of respondents, 26 per cent of Muslims were of the view that police discriminated on the basis of religion, while less than 18 per cent of Hindus and 16 per cent of Sikhs thought the same,” the report added.
The researchers also discovered that as many as 44 per cent of Indians were fearful of being beaten up by police, a finding reported by ThePrint Monday in the first of its series of reports on the study.
According to the survey, over 47 per cent of Muslims across the country said they feared being falsely accused of terrorist activities. Trying to explain the perception, the researchers cited the “large proportion” of Muslims in the country’s jails. This sentiment was said to be most widely prevalent in Telangana.
The percentage of Muslims in jails is higher than the community’s share in the population of India, a fact, critics said, that stems from an alleged “systemic bias” against them.
The 2011 census pegged the Muslim population at 14.23 per cent; and, in 2014, the government told Rajya Sabha that people from the community comprised 16.68 per cent of convicts and 21.05 per cent of undertrials.
What Adivasis and Dalits fear
The report suggested a similar fear among the Scheduled Tribes (Adivasis) and the Scheduled Castes (Dalits). According to the survey, 27 per cent of the Adivasis said they feared being framed for anti-state Maoist activities, while 35 per cent of Dalits held a similar fear regarding petty thefts.
“Nearly two in every five… respondents said police falsely implicated members of backward castes such as Dalits in petty crimes including theft, robbery, dacoity,” the report said.
“One in four… was of the opinion that such a false implication of Adivasis and Muslims did occur,” it added.
The results of the survey also suggested a perception that caste-based discrimination among police personnel was most prevalent in Bihar, Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh.
It said people were more likely to report class-based discriminatory attitudes of police, followed by gender- and caste-based discrimination.
The Indian Dalit man killed for sitting on a chair eating in front of upper-caste men
A helpless anger pervades the Dalit community in the remote Indian village of Kot.
Last month, a group of upper-caste men allegedly beat up a 21-year-old Dalit resident, named Jitendra, so badly that he died nine days later.
His alleged crime: he sat on a chair and ate in their presence at a wedding.
Not even one of the hundreds of guests who attended the wedding celebration - also of a young Dalit man - will go on record to describe what happened to Jitendra on 26 April.
Afraid of a backlash, they will only admit to being at a large ground where the wedding feast was being held.
Only the police have publicly said what happened.
The wedding food had been cooked by upper-caste residents because many people in remote regions don't touch any food prepared by Dalits, who are the bottom of the rigid Hindu caste hierarchy.
"The scuffle happened when food was being served. The controversy erupted over who was sitting on the chair," police officer Ashok Kumar said.
The incident has been registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act) - a law meant to protect historically oppressed communities.
Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, have suffered public shaming for generations at the hands of upper-caste Hindus.
Dalits continue to face widespread atrocities across the country and any attempts at upward social mobility are violently put down.
For example, four wedding processions of Dalits were attacked in the western state of Gujarat within a week in May.
It is still common to see reports of Dalits being threatened, beaten and killed for seemingly mundane reasons.
The culture that pervades their community is visible everywhere - including in Kot, which is in the hilly northern state of Uttarakhand.
Local residents from the Dalit community allege that Jitendra was beaten and humiliated at the wedding.
They say he left the event in tears, but was ambushed again a short distance away and attacked again - this time more brutally.
Jitendra's mother, Geeta Devi, found him injured outside their dilapidated house early the next morning.
"He had been perhaps lying there the entire night," she said, pointing to where she found him. "He had bruises and injury marks all over his body. He tried to speak but couldn't."
She does not know who left her son outside their home. He died nine days later in hospital.
Jitendra's death is a double tragedy for his mother - nearly five years ago her husband also died.
This meant that Jitendra, who was a carpenter, became the family's only breadwinner and had to drop out of school to start working.
Family and friends describe him as a private man who spoke very little.
Loved ones have been demanding justice for his death, but have found little support among the community.
"There is fear. The family lives in a remote area. They have no land and are financially fragile," Dalit activist Jabar Singh Verma said. "In surrounding villages too, the Dalits are outnumbered by families from higher castes."
Of the 50 families in Jitendra's village, only some 12 or 13 are Dalits.
Dalits comprise almost 19% of Uttarakhand's population and the state has a history of atrocities committed against them.
Police have arrested seven men in connection with Jitendra's death, but all of them deny any involvement.
#Indian #Dalit sisters found hanged in #rape case. Death of 2 sisters has provoked anger against CM #YogiAdityanath with accusations of running a lawless government in #UttarPradesh. Dalit #caste is at the bottom of a deeply discriminatory Hindu hierarchy. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-62910525
Two teenage sisters have been found hanging from a tree in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh in a suspected case of rape and murder.
Police said the bodies were found on Wednesday afternoon in Lakhimpur district. They have started an investigation after the family alleged the girls had been kidnapped and raped.
Six men have been arrested on charges of rape and murder.
The bodies have been sent for a post mortem examination, police said.
The girls, both below 18, belonged to the Dalit caste at the bottom of a deeply discriminatory Hindu hierarchy.
Despite constitutional protections, the community routinely faces prejudice and violence - a 2020 case involving the gang rape and murder of a 19-year Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh's Hathras district sparked a public outcry, spotlighting how vulnerable Dalit women were.
A fatal assault, a cremation and no goodbye
This case too has triggered protests by locals and opposition parties.
Police said the girls knew the accused but the family denied this and said they were abducted.
Local media reported that the girls' mother said the pair had been taken by men on motorcycles. She says she was attacked when she tried to stop them.
The family said they began looking for the girls and eventually found them hanging from a tree.
District police chief Sanjeev Suman said the girls were taken to a sugarcane field where they were raped and strangled to death.
"The accused then hanged their bodies from the tree to make it look like suicide," Mr Suman added, according to NDTV channel.
One of the accused was arrested following a "police encounter" or a shoot-out when he was trying to escape, police said.
According to local media, the police met with some resistance when they went to the girls' home on Wednesday night, where locals had joined the family in protest.
There is deep suspicion of the police among the Dalit community. Authorities were accused of apathy and of protecting the upper caste accused following the assault in Hathras. The victim's family also alleged that she had been cremated without giving them a chance to say goodbye.
Uttar Pradesh, in Indian's north, is the country's most populated state with over 200 million people - and has a record of violence against women and Dalits.
Critics say that despite all the coverage and new anti-rape laws - there is no sign that crimes against women are abating in India.
The death of the two sisters has provoked anger against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath with opposition leaders accusing him of running a lawless government in Uttar Pradesh.
"In the Yogi government, goons are harassing mothers and sisters every day, very shameful. The government should get the matter investigated, the culprits should get the harshest punishment," Akhilesh Yadav of the Samajwadi Party wrote on Twitter.
Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati said that criminals in Uttar Pradesh had no fear because the government's "priorities are wrong".
Priyanka Gandhi from the Congress party also attacked Mr Adityanath and said that "giving false advertisements in newspapers and TV does not improve law and order".
"After all, why are heinous crimes against women increasing in UP?" she asked.
Only 3% Muslims are in Indian national media
Recently, Oxfam India released a report titled “Who Tells Our Stories Matters: Representation of Marginalised Caste Groups in Indian Media.” It says; 90% of leadership positions in Indian media are occupied by Upper Caste groups with not even a single Dalit or Adivasi heading Indian mainstream media.
Exactly the same findings were made by the social activist and psephologist, Yogendra Yadav in 2006 who did a similar survey about the social profile of the national media professionals in India.
Yadav recalls the days of the Mandal II agitation in 2006 when he did this survey; “It was more a rudimentary headcount than a scientific survey but it confirmed our worst suspicions about caste, gender, and religion across Indian media.”
“We drew up a list of 40 national media outlets (Hindi and English TV channels and newspapers) and requested someone there to draw a list of their top 10 editor-level decision-makers. Then we recorded information on the gender, religion, and caste against each name. We had shortlisted 400 persons but were able to collect information on 315 only” he recalls.
Our findings were; “A staggering 88 percent of this elite list were upper-caste Hindus, a social group that cannot possibly exceed 20 percent of India’s population. Brahmins alone, no more than 2-3 percent of the population, occupied 49 percent of positions. Not even a single person in this list turned out to be from Dalit or Adivasi background. More relevant to the case in point, the OBCs, whose population is estimated to be around 45 percent, was merely 4 percent among the top media professionals. Women accounted for only 16 percent.
Yadav says that “the representation of the 14 percent Muslims was only 3 percent in the national media. He adds that brazen anti-minority headlines get routinely generated in media and the communal flare-up gets 9 times more coverage than caste conflict in India.”
Yadav says what we summarized in 2006 that India’s ‘national’ media lacks social diversity; it does not reflect the country’s social profile comes true with findings of the Oxfam report on media in India. The big picture that remains the same even after 15 years is that 20 percent of the country gets 80 percent voice in the media and the remaining 80 percent is limited to 20 percent media space.
Yogendra Yadav’s writeup “Hindu upper-caste Indian media is a lot like White-dominated South Africa” can be accessed in The Print, October 27, 2022.
Media has been perceived by the masses as a sacrosanct institution but how these are governed is a matter of mystery. While a wide range of issues are discussed, covered and aired both in print as well as on news channels, caste disparity within media houses has hardly ever been a topic of serious discussion. The deliberate ignorance of the issues that affect marginalised communities has led them to come up with their own channels.
This study is an attempt to find out the status of representation among SC, ST, OBC & DNT in different media outlets. The research team has explored the challenges faced by newsrooms, looked for existing best practices that different countries have adopted and also provided suggestions to make newsrooms more inclusive.
Another popular Hindu mythological text often shared with children is the Ramayana. In the story Rama, his wife Sita, and his brother Lakshmana are presented as dashing and heroic, particularly because they had braved exile and fought against a terrifying demon king, Ravana. Yet a closer look at the full Sanskrit text of Valmiki’s Ramayana reveals a violent undercurrent in its reinforcement of dharma. In one later addition to the story, a Brahmin goes to King Rama with his son dead in his arms. You must have done something wrong as king, he says, otherwise my son would not have died. A sage at court explains that the son died because a Shudra peasant fouled the order by learning to read and doing ascetic practices to try to ascend to heaven, which as a member of the lower caste he had no right to do.
Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 64). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.
Rama immediately leaps into his flying chariot and spies a mystic hanging upside down from a tree in an act of spiritual asceticism. It’s the Shudra Shambuka, who explains to Rama he is doing this rigorous penance in hopes of knowing the divine. Rama doesn’t even let him finish his sentence. He just slices Shambuka’s head off. All the gods cry out, “Well done!” Flowers from the heavens rain down on Rama, and the dead child of the Brahmin comes back to life.32 This story terrified me as a caste-oppressed child. I could not understand what was wrong with wanting to aspire to know God. Even more tragic than the existential implications of this story, today this kind of ritual decapitation occurs as the violence prescribed in scripture has spread across the subcontinent. Scriptural edict has become material violence.
Soundararajan, Thenmozhi. The Trauma of Caste (p. 65). North Atlantic Books. Kindle Edition.
Hundreds killed each year for marrying outside caste: CJI DY Chandrachud
Hundreds of people are killed each year for falling in love or marrying outside their castes or against the wishes of their families, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) DY Chandrachud said today while speaking on morality and its interplay with the law.
The CJI made the statement while referring to an incident of honor killing in Uttar Pradesh in 1991 as carried in a news article by the American magazine, Time.
The article shared the story of a 15-year-old girl who eloped with a man of 20 from a lower caste. They were later murdered by the upper castes of the village, and believed their actions were justified because they complied with the code of conduct of society.
The CJI was delivering the Ashok Desai Memorial Lecture on the topic ‘Law and Morality: The Bounds and Reaches’, addressing questions on the indissoluble link between law, morality, and group rights.
While talking about morality, the CJI said that expressions of good and bad, right and wrong are often used in everyday conversations.
The CJI said that while the law regulates external relations, morality governs the inner life and motivation. Morality appeals to our conscience and often influences the way we behave.
‘We can all agree that morality is a system of values that prescribes a code of conduct. But, do all of us principally agree on what constitutes morality? That is, is it necessary that what is moral for me ought to be moral to you as well?’ he asked.
While discussing what constitutes ‘adequate morality’, the CJI said that groups that have traditionally held positions of power in the socio-economic-political context of society have an advantage over the weaker sections in this bargaining process to reach adequate morality.
The CJI further built an argument that vulnerable groups are placed at the bottom of the social structure and that their consent, even if attained, is a myth. For example, Max Weber argued that the Dalits have never rebelled.
He pointed out that the dominant groups, by attacking the etiquette of the vulnerable groups, often prevent them from creating an identity that is unique to themselves.
The CJI elaborated on the same by sharing an example of clothing being one of the tools employed by dominant castes to alienate the Dalit community, where it was a wide-spread norm that the members of the Dalit community must wear marks of inferiority to be identified.
The CJI further spoke about how, even after the framing of the Constitution, the law has been imposing ‘adequate morality’, that is, the morality of the dominant community.
A Hindutva politician talking caste might sound paradoxical. After all, isn’t the RSS vision all about papering over fraternal caste faultlines to forge a monolithic Hindutva identity? Well, annihilation of caste is not a Hindutva identity project.
Caste is an Indian reality and the assertion of Hindu identity is always a confirmation of caste pride too. In the Hindu pyramidal caste hierarchy, the top Brahminical cone exists only because of the large Shudra and the other backward caste base. If the base goes, the pyramid collapses. So, the Brahminical hierarchy depends primarily on the assertion of allegiance of the backward castes.
The more the backward castes become assertive Hindus, the stronger the Hindu hierarchy and Hindutva identity. Thus, Narendra Modi is a godsend to upper-caste voters of the Gangetic plains. The moment he underscores his backward caste identity within the larger Hindutva fold, the bigger “Hindu hridaya samrat” he becomes.
Afeudal Brahmin or Rajput or Vaishya of Uttar Pradesh gets socially reassured when a backward-caste person acknowledges the relative Hindu hierarchical positions and upholds the Hindutva model. The greatest upper-caste political push for the RSS happened when Kalyan Singh, a backward caste, led the BJP in UP.
Kalyan Singh, Uma Bharti and Vinay Katiyar, three leaders from the Lodh Rajput community, were the most visible faces of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement. Like the loyal monkey army of the ideal Kshatriya, leaders of the backward castes gave the greatest legitimacy for the Ram temple political programme.
It was this felt need of the cadre that Modi addressed on Sunday in Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan as he flaunted his backward caste and working class origins. And the timing was perfect. He was responding to the attack on him by a liberal, upper-class, Brahmin Mani Shankar Iyer. Though the Gandhi-Nehru family retains some status of the prime Brahmin political family it used to be and the Congress still partakes of the dwindling dividends of Panditji’s legacy, the family and leaders like Iyer are seen a ..
Modi’s chaiwala challenge, hence, is a call to all the backward-caste voters of the heartland, while reassuring the core Sangh upper-caste constituency. This tactic, Sangh insiders hope, will add to the BJP kitty just as Kalyan Singh could rally the backward castes for the Parviar during the 1990s. Then, the Kalyan magic had worked. He won the party 52 seats in 1991, 51 in 1996 and 57 in 1998 from undivided Uttar Pradesh.
Former chief of Jan Sangh, Balraj Madhok, always used to point out that even a western-educated liberal like Jawaharlal Nehru allowed himself to be referred to as Panditji because the Congress party wanted to tell the heartland masses, in no uncertain terms, that Nehru was a Brahmin.
Similarly, nothing can enthuse the Sangh Parivar cadre more than the assertion of Modi’s caste identity. The Modi surname is largely associated with the uppercaste Vaishya community from Rajasthan and elsewhere. So, till it is spelt out, the backward class or caste origins of the BJP’s PM candidate remain obscure.
How India’s caste system limits diversity in science — in six charts
Data show how privileged groups still dominate many of the country’s elite research institutes.
This article is part of a Nature series examining data on ethnic or racial diversity in science in different countries. See also: How UK science is failing Black researchers — in nine stark charts.
Samadhan is an outlier in his home village in western India. Last year, he became the first person from there to start a science PhD. Samadhan, a student in Maharashtra state, is an Adivasi or indigenous person — a member of one of the most marginalized and poorest communities in India.
For that reason, he doesn’t want to publicize his last name or institution, partly because he fears that doing so would bring his social status to the attention of a wider group of Indian scientists. “They’d know that I am from a lower category and will think that I have progressed because of [the] quota,” he says.
The quota Samadhan refers to is also known as a reservation policy: a form of affirmative action that was written into India’s constitution in 1950. Reservation policies aimed to uplift marginalized communities by allocating quotas for them in public-sector jobs and in education. Mirroring India’s caste system of social hierarchy, the most privileged castes dominated white-collar professions, including roles in science and technology. After many years, the Indian government settled on a 7.5% quota for Adivasis (referred to as ‘Scheduled Tribes’ in official records) and a 15% quota for another marginalized group, the Dalits (referred to in government records as ‘Scheduled Castes’, and formerly known by the dehumanizing term ‘untouchables’). These quotas — which apply to almost all Indian research institutes — roughly correspond to these communities’ representation in the population, according to the most recent census of 2011.
But the historically privileged castes — the ‘General’ category in government records — still dominate many of India’s elite research institutions. Above the level of PhD students, the representation of Adivasis and Dalits falls off a cliff. Less than 1% of professors come from these communities at the top-ranked institutes among the 23 that together are known as the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), according to data provided to Nature under right-to-information requests (see ‘Diversity at top Indian institutions’; the figures are for 2020, the latest available at time of collection).
“This is deliberate” on the part of institutes that “don’t want us to succeed”, says Ramesh Chandra, a Dalit, who retired as a senior professor at the University of Delhi last June. Researchers blame institute heads for not following the reservation policies, and the government for letting them off the hook.
Diversity gaps are common in science in many countries but they take different forms in each nation. The situation in India highlights how its caste system limits scientific opportunities for certain groups in a nation striving to become a global research leader.
India’s government publishes summary student data, but its figures for academic levels beyond this don’t allow analyses of scientists by caste and academic position, and most universities do not publish these data. In the past few years, however, journalists, student groups and researchers have been gathering diversity data using public-information laws, and arguing for change. Nature has used some of these figures, and its own information requests, to examine the diversity picture. Together, these data show that there are major gaps in diversity in Indian science institutions.
#Caste system in #Indian Prisons: Unconstitutional but legal – State prison manuals legitimize caste-based rules for prisoner activities, from cleaning to cooking. #India #Modi #BJP #Hindutva #Brahmin #Apartheid https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/blogs/toi-edit-page/caste-system-in-indian-prisons-unconstitutional-but-legal-state-prison-manuals-legitimise-caste-based-rules-for-prisoner-activities-from-cleaning-to-cooking-judiciary-must-step-in-to-stri/
By Atishya Kumar
India’s criminal justice system, a legacy of the Raj, is intended primarily to punish. Reformation or rehabilitation was never on the agenda. As a result, the age-old social system of caste remained prevalent in prisons. Worse still, many colonial policies heavily relied on caste-based rules for administration and maintenance of order in prisons.
To date, the primary law that governs management and administration of prisons is still the colonial era law – Prisons Act, 1894. That state-level prison manuals remain unchanged since the establishment of the modern prison system also prominently reflects the colonial and caste mentality.
I won a birth lottery on caste, but learned fortune need not mean cruelty
By Shree ParadkarSocial & Racial Justice Columnist
I come from a Brahmin family. This means I won a birth lottery. It means that while other identities may pose barriers, caste is never one. In fact, in certain situations, it is the secret handshake that opens doors, sometimes literally.
Caste privilege looks like — among many things — never hesitating to say your last name, being considered to come from a “good family,” having a higher chance of a sheltered upbringing (innocence is prized but not granted to all women) and being treated with deference in public spaces.
Brahmins around me insist they are not casteist. They say they don’t even think about caste let alone know the names of various castes, yet their social circles are almost entirely made up of fellow Brahmins. They say that caste oppression is now reversed and that Brahmins are now the real victims, sidelined in the caste system.
These are debates without empirical data, backed up by an anecdote or two about an undeserving “lower caste” person getting this job or that. (For a Brahmin, everybody else is “lower caste.”) By various counts, Brahmins, who form about four to five per cent of the Hindu population, comprise half of Indian media decision-makers and at least a third of bureaucrats and judges. Meanwhile, according to Oxfam, Dalits’ life expectancy can be up to 15 years less than other groups.
If forced to discuss caste, Brahmins will often claim the orginal varna system was fluid at its founding thousands of years ago, again with no evidence that Dalits could ever have educated themselves enough to then be considered Brahmin. As Indian social justice advocate Dilip Mandal noted recently on Twitter Spaces, a discussion on caste is neither theological nor historical nor abstract. It’s about lived experiences today.
Being ignorant of caste is a marker of privilege. I, too, only learned of the details of the caste system thanks to the tireless advocacy of Equality Labs in the U.S. Understanding anti-Black racism awoke me to caste-based brutality. Of course, learning that one’s gloried background is the carrier of such cruelty causes harsh cognitive dissonance. Reckoning with this reality is painful, but that discomfort pales in comparison to the generations of trauma inflicted on the marginalized. There is also little point in guilt or self-hatred; both emotions, while wrenching, simply continue to centre on the self.
None of us are born with a ready-made analysis of oppression. None of us choose to be born into the identities we inherit. The least the holders of power can do is to sit quietly, listen, reflect — not “Am I complicit” but “In what ways am I complicit” — learn, make space. And then they should let go of the reins.
'Hindutva Is Nothing But Brahminism'
The author (Kancha Ilaiah) of Why I Am Not A Hindu on his view that 'Dalitisation' alone can effectively challenge the threat of Brahminical fascism parading in the garb of Hindutva.
How would you characterise contemporary Hindutva? What is the relationship between Hindutva and the Dalit-Bahujans?
As Dr.Ambedkar says, Hindutva is nothing but Brahminism. And whether you call it Hindutva or Arya Dharma or Sanatana Dharma or Hindusim, Brahminism has no organic link with Dalit-Bahujan life, world-views, rituals and even politics. To give you just one example, in my childhood many of us had not even heard of the Hindu gods, and it was only when we went to school that we learnt about Ram and Vishnu for the very first time. We had our own goddesses, such as Pochamma and Elamma, and our own caste god, Virappa. They and their festivals played a central role in our lives, not the Hindu gods. At the festivals of our deities, we would sing and dance--men, women and all-- and would sacrifice animals and drink liquor, all of which the Hindus consider 'polluting'.
Our relations with our deities were transactional and they were rooted in the production process. For instance, our goddess Kattamma Maisa. Her responsibility is to fill the tanks with water. If she does it well, a large number of animals are sacrificed to her. If in one year the tanks dry up, she gets no animals. You see, between her and her Dalit-Bahujan devotees there is this production relation which is central.
In fact, many Dalit communities preserve traditions of the Hindu gods being their enemies. In Andhra, the Madigas enact a drama which sometimes goes on for five days. This drama revolves around Jambavanta, the Madiga hero, and Brahma, the representative of the Brahmins. The two meet and have a long dialogue. The central argument in this dialogue is about the creation of humankind. Brahma claims superiority for the Brahmins over everybody else, but Jambavanta says, 'No, you are our enemy'. Brahma then says that he created the Brahmins from his mouth, the Kshatriyas from his hands, the Vaishyas from his thighs, the Shudras from his feet to be slaves for the Brahmins, and of course the Dalits, who fall out of the caste system, have no place here. This is the Vedic story.
What you are perhaps suggesting is that Dalit-Bahujan religion can be used to effectively counter the politics of Brahminism or Hindutva. But Brahminism has this knack of co-opting all revolt against it, by absorbing it within the system.
It is true that although Dalit-Bahujan religious formations historically operated autonomously from Hindu forms, they have never been centralised or codified. Their local gods and goddesses have not been projected into universality, nor has their religion been given an all-India name. This is because these local deities and religious forms were organically linked to local communities, and were linked to local productive processes, such as the case of Virappa and Katamma Maisa whom I talked about earlier. But Brahminism has consistently sought to subvert these religious forms by injecting notions of 'purity' and 'pollution', hierarchy and untouchability even among the Dalit-Bahujans themselves, while at the same time discounting our religious traditions by condemning them as 'polluting' or by Brahminising them.
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