TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2002]
NEW DELHI: Discrimination continues to obstruct the access of Dalit children to schooling as well as to affect the quality of education they receive. Therefore, progress of schooling among Dalit children between the age of five and 14 has been relatively poor compared to that of the general population.
This and many other facts have been highlighted in the ``India Education Report'' brought out by the National Institute of Educational Planning and Administration (NIEPA), along with Oxford University Press, released on Monday.
The 362-page report takes up important issues concerning basic education. The chapter on education of Dalit children, by Geetha B Nambisan and Mona Sedwal, highlights the discrimination that Dalits, in general, and their children, in particular, are subjected to. ``Teachers refuse to touch SC children, these children are also special targets of verbal abuse and physical punishment by teachers,'' says the report.
According to the report, school attendance in rural areas in 1993-94 was 64.3 per cent for Dalit boys, compared to 74.9 per cent among boys from other social groups. In urban areas, Dalit boys have higher attendance rates (77.5), but the lag in enrolment rates vis-a-vis other boys continues to be around 10 percentage points.
Dalits lagged behind the general population by as much as 15 percentage points in literacy. Barely 24 per cent of Dalit women were literate, according to the 1991 Census. In case of tribal children, the literacy data from 1971 to 1991 show that the literacy rate for Scheduled Tribes (STs) has gone up from a lowly 11.3 per cent in 1971 to 29.5 per cent in 1991.
The number of ST literates has increased, but so has the gap between the ST and the non-ST population — from 22.5 to 33.05 per cent between 1971 and 1991. Though states like Mizoram, Nagaland and Meghalaya — all with high tribal population — have done exceedingly well, in other states like Madhya Pradesh, Orissa, Rajasthan and Andhra Pradesh, tribal literacy is very low.
According to the report, around 11 million girls in the 6-11 age group remain unenrolled in school, which accounts for 88 per cent of all unenrolled children from the same age group. The corresponding figure for the 11-14 age group is around 16 million girls, constituting 58 per cent of all unenrolled children.
RAJESH K THAKUR
TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2002 ]
HAJIPUR: The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, commonly known as the SC/ST Atrocity Act, has become a tool in the hands of a section of better off people in Vaishali district to settle score with their adversaries.
These people pay money to members of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes to lodge (false) complaints of atrocities against persons targeted by the unscrupulous elements.
Vaishali SP Shobha Ohatker candidly admits the blatant misuse of the act in the district. Says she, "A dangerous tendency has emerged among the upper caste people, who, to settle score with their opponents, provide money and incite the innocent poor people of the SC/ST community to lodge false cases of atrocities against their opponents under the act."
Following reports of misuse of the act from different parts of the district, Ohatker conducted a supervision and found that about 70 per cent of the cases lodged under the act were false and lodged at the behest of influential people of upper castes.
She told The Times of India that she had supervised about 35 such cases and almost all of them were "concocted' and "false".
In fact, the complainants were ignorant of the crimes they had charged the accused to have perpetrated on them. On being questioned, the SC/ST members said that they had been given money and asked to simply "sign" on some paper which were later used to lodge cases of atrocities.
Alarmed at this practice, Ohatker has decided to launch a campaign in the district to create awareness among the members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes against being manipulated by the influential people.
"I have also instructed the officers in-charge of all the police stations in the district to create awareness against the misuse of the act whenever anyone from the SC/ST community approaches them to lodge a case under this act," said Ohatker. She has also urged the local NGOs to initiate a campaign in this regard.
Besides, legal action is contemplated against those who instigate the SC/ST members to lodge false cases, the SP said.
MUMBAI, FEBRUARY 21: Smoke arising from balding hillocks as the day winds down with the fading light of day. Chickens, which had strayed from their coop, occasionally weaved their way past a group of women squatting stubbornly on the hillock's muddy surface. A plaintive chant went up: ``You cannot take away our land.''
The sit-in followed a turbulent Wednesday, which saw 30 tribals, including pregnant women and babies a few months old, being huddled into police vans and taken away. It took five hours and 60 policemen to calm the protests at Devichapada in the wooded expanse of the Aarey Milk Colony at Goregaon (East).
Another demonstration, in the heart of Filmcity, climaxed a fortnight- long protest against an attempt to survey and then clear 25 acres for a film school, ``Whistling Woods'', proposed here.
The school is to be constructed in collaboration with film-maker Subhash Ghai's Mukta Arts. But the efforts of the state-owned Maharashtra Film Stage and Cultural Development Corporation (MFSCDC), which runs Filmcity, to prepare the ground have been met with stiff resistance from the tribals.
At stake are four padas (colonies) which continued to be home for 240 families even after the state demarcated 500 acres for Filmcity in 1977.
The tribals, led by the Shramik Mukti Sangh, produced documents — such as a letter from the director of Aarey Milk Colony — giving them the right to cultivate in the area in the 1950s.
R. Vimala, joint managing director, MFSCDC, said: ``We looked at several places and this place is strategically located. ``It will be six months before construction will start. We have offered to rehabilitate the tribals,'' Vimala said.
Earlier, after the ``troublemakers'' had been taken away by police, the surveyors began work. Measuring tapes were out as they surveyed the land. Unnoticed, Devichapada's children watched homes being marked for demolition.
LAW KUMAR MISHRA
TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 21, 2002 ]
ALODA BAZAR (Chhatisgarh): At least 13 tribal and dalit women were allegedly stripped by forest department officials at the Navagam rest house of the forest department, about 100 km from the state capital, on Tuesday evening.
The forest officials, however, denied the charge and alleged that the women had encroached upon the forest land and were levelling charges against the officials who had gone to remove the encroachment. Denying the charge levelled by the women, principal chief conservator of forests R.C. Sharma told Times News Network that the forest officials and policemen had gone to remove unauthorised constructions and encroachments from forest land. The team was accompanied by a women's force and the sub-divisional magistrate. ``Ninety five per cent of the women were encroachers on forest land.''
However, local MP P.R. Khunte insisted that the women were allegedly disrobed and humiliated by the forest staff and left in the Devpour jungles late in the night. The women complained here that they were picked up while they were collecting Mahuva flowers in the jungles. They also alleged that the forest officials stripped and humiliated them.
Denying the charges, conservator of forests Jitendra Upadhya said on Thursday that the local van samiti (village level forest committee) had passed a resolution in 1998 and asked the forest department to remove encroachments as per a Supreme Court directive, which had said that no lease should be granted to the villagers settled after 1980. Even after that, at least 20 families continued to occupy the forest land.
He said the village-level forest protection committee had even imposed fines on the encroachers. The forest department started plantation on the land occupied by them on February 18, which was resisted by the women. Some of them even constructed makeshift huts overnight to establish their claim of settlement. But the local committees removed them.
Because of the Vishva Hindu Parishad we are heading towards a dangerous position, said Mr. Udit Raj (Ram Raj), the National Chairman of All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations and Lord Buddha Club. Today the whole country is getting communalised and each one of us will suffer. The Government could have stopped Sant the Chetawani Rally, but it was welcomed by the Government. Mr. Giriraj Kishore and Mr. Ashok Singhal, the VHP leaders, had already defied the Supreme Court by worshiping at the disputed place in Ayodhya. That was a right time to curb the lawlessness behaviour of these leaders.
Whatever happened and whoever is responsible for the incident of Godhra on Wednesday is to be condemned in the strongest possible manner but most unfortunate was that the Gujarat Government did not take enough precautions to check possible fallouts. It was anticipated that something untoward would happen. Reports are coming in that mobs gheraoed localities and habitats for hours together and Police did not come to their rescue which shows Government connivance. If the Government had not fallen in line with communalism, then the Police themselves would have been effective enough to control the situation.
The All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations and Lord Buddha Club planned to mobilize people to embrace Buddhism on 4th November, 2001 at Ram Lila Ground, New Delhi, but the same was opposed by Mr. Giriraj Kishore. He openly threatened that the Deeksha would not be allowed to take place and finally the Central Government came very heavily upon us and revoked permission of Ram Lila Ground. Ours was a Constitutional action but the Central Government in collaboration with the VHP did not permit it. The Bajrang Dal and VHP are openly distributing trishuls and weapons but so far no action has been taken against them. Without any clinching evidence against SIMI, the Government has banned the Organization but there is conclusive evidence against the VHP and Bajrangdal but they are at large. Thus there is one law for the Sangh Parivar and another for minorities and dalits.
Mr. Udit Raj welcomed the Supreme Court order against changes made in NCERT books. Dalits demand that the VHP should be banned since it is using innocent dalits and poor, defied Supreme Court order in respect of Ayodhya, created hindrance to perform Diksha on 4 th Nov,2001, communalising and terrorizing the society and is threatening to go ahead with the construction of temple at Ayodhya.
Lok Sabha Speaker G M C Balayogi died in a helicopter crash at about 8 am in Krishna district today. Three others travelling with him including the pilot also died when the private helicopter developed a technical snag and crashed into a fish pond near Kaikalur in Krishna district, about 350 km from here. The helicopter was carrying the Speaker, his gunman and an assistant apart from the pilot.
Mr Balayogi’s body was brought here this evening by a special aircraft. According to official sources, the body will be taken to Delhi tomorrow evening. It will be kept in Parliament House on Tuesday to enable Prime Minister A B Vajpayee and MPs pay their last respects. It will be moved to Amalapuram in his home district of East Godavari on Tuesday evening and the funeral will be held on Wednesday. The Union Government has announced a two-day national mourning in Mr Balayogi’s memory.
The helicopter, belonging to Deccan Aviation, developed the snag a few minutes after it left Bhimavaram and hit a coconut tree before hurtling into a fish pond near Kuvvadalanka village. There was an explosion soon after the chopper crashed into the pond, official sources said. Mr Balayogi had suffered severe head injuries. The body of the pilot G B Menon has been sent to Bangalore, his home town.
A shattered Chief Minster N Chandrababu Naidu along with three of his cabinet colleagues rushed to Eluru where the bodies had been moved for post mortem. They remained there for more than six hours and later accompanied the body to Hyderabad. The body was first taken to his residence in Kundanbagh and later to the NTR Trust Bhavan, the headquarters of the ruling Telugu Desam Party.
A host of national and state leaders paid their last respects to Mr Balayogi at the NTR Trust Bhavan this evening. Among those who placed wreaths on the body included Vice-President Krishan Kant, former prime minster I K Gujral and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairperson Najma Heptullah. Fate seems to have drawn Mr Balayogi to the tragic end. He was supposed to return to Hyderabad this morning but last minute changes in his programme saw him attending several programmes in Eluru. Since he became the Lok Sabha Speaker, Mr Balayogi made it a habit to spend every week-end in his constituency. His programme was always crowded with the presence at both official and private functions. He refused very few invitations and made it a point to attend social functions in his constituency. If he missed any of the functions to which he was invited he would send a personal greeting and visit the host the next time he was in the constituency.
In the last four years he had been Speaker, not only did he become the most popular politician in the two Godavari districts but also the main force behind several development programmes especially of infrastructure such as roads and bridges. The chief minister said: “This is an irreparable personal loss to me. He was a good person and he grew step by step and brought respect and prestige to the position of Speaker.”