Tag Archives: caste system

Reality of Gudi Padwa, festival of upper castes’ exploitation of lower castes women


On first or second Saturday coming after the Hindu New Years Day (Gudhi padawa), the devadasis, who are mostly dalitbahujans, were openly sexually enjoyed in public, about hundred years ago. This is now replaced by another tradition called “Okali”, which was in vogue till 1987. It is a festival like ‘Rang Panchami’. The young boys from higher castes assemble around a pool of coloured water in front of town temple. Young devadasis in the town stand in front of them in a row, and each receives a sari, a choli and a flower garland. The coloured water is poured over the devadasis who appear virtually naked as the cloths given to them are very thin, scanty, delicate and transparent. The boys play with the bodies of devadasis as they like, doing everything just short of sexual intercourse. All assembled enjoy the scene. This happens in the name of god ‘Bili Kallappa’. [Uttam Kamble, Sugawa, p. 81]

Gudi Padwa

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Constitutional Safeguards for Dalits


SAFEGUARDS IN THE INDIAN CONSTITUTION FOR SCHEDULED CASTES

AND SCHEDULED TRIBES

The important Constitutional safeguards for SCs & STs are mentioned below:

(a) Directive Principles of State Policy

Article 46 is a comprehensive article comprising both the developmental and regulatory aspects. It reads as follows:

“The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker sections, of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation”.

(b) Social Safeguards

Article 17. “Untouchability” is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of “Untouchability” shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law.

616x510To give effect to this Article, Parliament made an enactment viz., Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1955. To make the provisions of this Act more stringent, the Act was amended in 1976 and was also renamed as the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955. As provided under the Act, Government of India also notified the Rules, viz., the PCR Rules, 1977, to carry out the provisions of this Act. As cases of atrocities on SCs/STs were not covered under the provisions of PCR Act, 1955, Parliament passed another important Act in 1989 for taking measures to prevent the atrocities. This act known as the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, became effective from 30.1.1990. For carrying out the provisions of this Act the Govt. of India have notified the SCs and the STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995 on 31.3.1995.

Article 23. Prohibits traffic in human beings and begar and other similar forms of forced labour and provides that any contravention of this provision shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. It does not specifically mention SCs & STs but since the majority of bonded labour belong to SCs/STs this Article has a special significance for SCs and STs. In pursuance of this article, Parliament has enacted the Bonded Labour System (Abolition) Act, 1976. For effective implementation of this Act, the Ministry of Labour is running a Centrally Sponsored Scheme for identification, liberation and rehabilitation of bonded labour.

Article 24 provides that no child below the age of 14 years shall be employed to work in any factory or mine or engaged in any other hazardous employment. There are Central and State laws to prevent child labour. This article too is significant for SCs and STs as a substantial portion, if not the majority, of child labour engaged in hazardous employment belong to SCs and STs.

Article 25(2)(b) provides that Hindu religious institutions of a public character shall be thrown open to all classes and sections of Hindus. This provision is relevant as some sects of Hindus used to claim that only members of the concerned sects had a right to enter their temples. This was only a subterfuge to prevent entry of SC persons in such temples. For the purpose of this provision the term Hindu includes Sikh, Jaina and Budhist.

Educational and Cultural Safeguards

Article 15(4) empowers the State to make any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for SC and ST. This provision has enabled the State to reserve seats for SCs and STs in educational institutions including technical, engineering and medical colleges and in Scientific & Specialised Courses. In this as well as in Article 16(4)the term ‘backward classes’ is used as a generic term and comprises various categories of backward classes, viz., Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, Other Backward Classes, Denotified Communities (Vimukta Jatiyan) and Nomadic/Seminomadic communities.

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Caste Discrimination in Public Distribution System (PDS)


Another study in the book ‘Blocked by Caste: Economic Discrimination and Social Exclusion in Modern India’ published in 2010 reports discrimination in Public Distribution System (PDS). fair price shops, are either owned privately or run by cooperatives.

An analysis by Thorat and Lee, drawing on a survey of PDS outlets in 531 villages across five States, shows that there was discriminatory behaviour against Dalits by the PDS staff in respect of prices in 28 per cent of villages and in respect of quality in 40 per cent. In 26 per cent of the villages, dealers practised untouchability “by dropping goods from above into cupped Dalit hands below, so as to avoid ‘polluting contact’.”

Check also – Caste Discrimination in Jobs at Private Sector. What is the caste of your company?

Caste system

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Documentary – Bant Singh : The Warrior


Bant Singh

Bant Singh

Bant Singh2

Bant Singh is a lower caste Mazhabi, Sikh labourer and singer from the Jhabhar village in Mansa district, Punjab, India, who has emerged as an agricultural labour activist, fighting against the power of the landowner. Described by Amit Sengupta as “an icon of Dalit resistance he has been active in organizing poor, agricultural workers, activism that continues despite a 2006 attack that cost him both of his lower arms and his left leg.”

After his minor daughter was raped by some powerful men in 2000, he dared take them to court, an unusual occurrence when a Dalit is raped by a non-Dalit, braving threats of violence and attempted bribes. The trial culminated in life sentences for three of the culprits in 2004, “the first time that a Dalit from the region who had complained against upper-caste violence had managed to secure a conviction.”

On the evening of 7 January 2006 Bant Singh was returning home through some wheat fields. He had just been campaigning for a national agricultural labour rally to be held in Andhra Pradesh in January. He was suddenly waylaid by a gang of seven men, suspected to be sent by Jaswant and Niranjan Singh, the current and former headmen of his village who have links with the Indian National Congress party. One of them brandished a revolver to prevent any resistance while the other six set upon him with iron rods and axes beating him to pulp.

He was left for dead, and a phone call was made to Beant Singh, a leading man in Jhabhar, to pick up the dead body. However, Bant Singh was alive, though barely.

Source – Wikipedia and Chords of Justice

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We did not go on to the stage, Neither were we called.


We did not go on to the stage,
Neither were we called.
We were shown our places,
told to sit.
But they, sitting on the stage,
went on telling us of our sorrows,
our sorrows remained ours, they never became theirs.

— Waharu Sonawane, A tribal poet.

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What Jeremy Corbyn, leader of Labour Party (UK) said about Dalits


In 2012, Mr Corbyn told parliament –

Dalits are the largest group of people in the world who are systematically discriminated against on the basis of their descent and caste. They perform the worst jobs in the dirtiest conditions, and have the shortest life expectancy, the lowest level of education, the worst housing and the lowest pay and employment levels of any group in India, or indeed, the rest of the world.

Jeremy

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Watch – ‘Caste on the Menu Card’ documentary


The film delves into the idea of food as a site of exclusion by focusing on beef-eating practices in Mumbai. It attempts to portray the prevalence of caste differentiations as seen in the food choices of people in the city and touches upon concerns related to livelihood, social inclusion and human rights.

By tracing the mythological and historical roots of the meat-eating culture in our country, the film discusses the hierarchy maintained by Brahminical preferences and its intended subversions. This is seen in the stand taken on dealing with the political economy of the leather and meat industries.

The film also follows the ruptured background of universities’ caste politics over the demand of inclusion of beef in institutions. It observes that many restaurants in Mumbai offer beef delicacies, but off the menu.

Thus, the film reads ‘Caste on the Menu Card’.

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RESERVATION – 10 Questions and Answers


Q 1: What is reservation?

The word reservation is a misnomer. The appropriate word for it used in the Indian Constitution is Representation. It is not given to anyone in his individual capacity. It is given to individual as a representative of the underprivileged community. The beneficiaries of reservations are in turn expected to help their communities to come up.

Q 2: Why reservation?

The policy of reservations is being used as a strategy to overcome discrimination and act as a compensatory exercise. A large section of the society was historically denied right to property, education, business and civil rights because of the practice of untouchability. In order to compensate for the historical denial and have safeguards against discrimination, we have the reservation policy.

Q 3: Were Reservations incorporated by the founding fathers of the constitution only for first 10 years?

Only the political reservations (seats reserved in Loksabha, Vidhansabha, etc) were to be reserved for 10 years and the policy review was to be made after that. That is why after every 10 years the parliament extends political reservations.

The 10 year limit for reservations is not true for the reservations in education and employment. The reservations in educational institutions and in employment are never given extension as it is given for the political reservations.

Q 4: Why give reservations on basis of caste?

To answer this question we must first understand why the need for the reservations has arisen. The cause for the various types of disabilities that the underprivileged castes in India face / have faced, is the systemic historical subjugation of a massive magnitude based on caste system having a religious sanction. Therefore if the caste system was the prime cause of all the disabilities, injustice and inequalities that the Dalit-Bahujans suffered, then to overcome these disabilities the solution has to be designed on basis of caste only.

Q 5: Why not on basis of economic criterion?

Reservations should never be based on economic status for various reasons as follows:

1. The poverty prevailing among the Dalit-Bahujans has its genesis in the social-religious deprivations based on caste system. Therefore poverty is an effect and caste system a cause. The solution should strike at the cause and not the effect
2. An individual’s Economic status can change. Low income may be taken to mean poverty. But the purchasing value of money, in India, depends upon caste. For example a Dalit can not buy a cup of tea even in some places.

3. Practical difficulties in proving economic status of individual to the state machinery are many. The weak may suffer.

4. In caste ridden India infested with rampant corruption, even for an unchangeable status like caste, the false “Caste Certificate” can be purchased. How much easier will it be to purchase a false “Income Certificate”? So income based reservation is impractical. It is no use arguing when both certificates can be bought, why caste only should form basis of reservation. It is certainly more difficult to buy a false caste certificate than a false income certificate.

5. Reservation is not an end in itself. It is a means to an end. The main aim is to achieve the active participation and sharing by the “socially excluded” humanity in all the fields of the affairs of the society. It is not panacea for all ills, neither it is permanent. It would be a temporary measure till such time the matrimonial advertisements in newspaper columns continue to contain the mention of caste.

Q 6: Should there be a creamy layer criterion or not?

The demand from anti-reservationists for introduction of creamy layer is ploy to scuttle the whole effectiveness of reservations. Even now out of all seats meant for SC/STs in IITs , 25-40 % seats remain vacant because it seems IITs do not find suitable candidates. Just imagine what would happen if by applying creamy layer criterion the SC/ST middle class, lower middle class people who are in position to take decent education are excluded from reservations benefit ! Will the poor among SC/STs be able to compete with these ‘privileged ‘students’ trained under Ramaiah and at various IIT-JEE training centers at Kota ?
Of course Not.
This will lead to 100 % seats in IITs for SC/STs going vacant.

Q 7: How long should the reservations continue?

The answer to this question lies with the anti-reservationists. It depends on how sincerely and effectively the policy makers which constitute “privileged castes” people in executive, judiciary and legislature, implement the reservations policy.
Is it just on part of “privileged castes” people who have enjoyed undeclared exclusive reservations for past 3000 years and continue to enjoy the same even in 21st century in all religious institutions and places of worship, to ask for the timelines for reservations policy?
Why do not they ask, how long the exclusive reservations for particular community in the religious institutions and places of worship are going to continue?
The people who have acquired disabilities due to inhuman subjugation for 3000 years will need substantial time to come over those disabilities. 50 years of affirmative action is nothing as compared to 3000 years of subjugation.

Q 8: Will not the reservations based on castes lead to divisions in the society?

There are apprehensions that reservations will lead to the divisions in the society. These apprehensions are totally irrational. The society is already divided into different castes. On the contrary reservations will help in annihilating the caste system. There are around 5000 castes among the SC/ST and OBCs. By grouping these various castes under 3 broad categories of SC, ST and OBC, the differences among 5000 separate castes can be abridged. This is a best way of annihilation of castes. Therefore rather than making rhetoric about reservations leading to divisions in the society the anti-reservationists should make honest and sincere efforts to annihilate castes. Have these people made any efforts towards this direction? In most of the cases the answer is NO. The people making these anti-reservations rhetoric, all this time have been enjoying all the privileges that the Indian caste system offers to the “Privileged Castes”. As long as they enjoy the privileges of the caste system they do not have any qualms regarding it. But when it comes to making castes as basis for achieving social equality by providing representations these same people make noises. These are the double standards of highest order practiced by the ‘privileged’ people.

Q 9: Will not reservations affect the Merit?

As regards to how Merit is defined in a very narrow sense and what it actually means, following is the quote from an article by Prof Rahul Barman of IIT Kanpur.

Reservations of more than 60 % have existed in the 4 states of southern India and around 40 % in Maharashtra since last 50 years. On other hand in the north Indian states the 15 % ‘privileged castes’ have been enjoying 77 % of the seats in educational institutions and in employment (assuming that 23 % reservations for SC/STs are totally filled, which is not the case). The World Bank study has found that all the 4 south Indian states are much ahead of north Indian states in terms of their human development index. It is a common knowledge that all the southern states and Maharashtra are much ahead in fields of education, health, industrial development, in implementing poverty alleviation schemes, etc. than the north Indian states. This shows that reservations have indeed helped the southern Indian states in making progress on various fronts. Whereas lack of adequate reservations is responsible for the lack of development in most of the north Indian states.

Q 10: Have existing reservations for SC/STs been effective or not?

The reservation policy in the public sector has benefited a lot of people. The Central government alone has 14 lakh employees. The proportion of Scheduled castes in class III and IV is well above the quota of 16 per cent and in class I and II, the proportion is around 8–12 per cent. So, the middle and the lower middle class that we see today from the Dalit community is because of reservation.

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