Survey on migration of tribals

By Our Staff Reporter

VILLUPURAM MARCH 13. The `Kalrayan Hills Area Development Programme', a service organisation affiliated to the World Vision of India, has undertaken a survey on the migration of the tribals of the Kalrayan Hills, bordering Villupuram and Salem.

According to the manager of the programme, D. K. James Neil, the six- month migration an annual phenomenon, was more pronounced during the post-Pongal period. This coincided with the post-harvest season for the tribals and the temporary migration was to eke out a livelihood. The survey laid special emphasis on the level of education among the children of the community. While a few of the children of this community accompanied their parents, contributing to the overall school dropout rate, many were left under the care of grandparents. These children often looked after the livestock.

The survey will be completed shortly and students will be motivated to rejoin classes, Mr. Neil said.

The Programme had also deposited Rs. 93,000 for providing domestic power supply for tribals living in Kannoor and Kalliparai hamlets, at the rate of Rs 1,550 per connection. Though electrification had been provided using solar energy cells, many units had failed due to lack of maintenance.

Under the DANIDA-assisted "Water and Sanitation Project'', fifty household toilets had been constructed at Aavaloor, Maankodi and Athikuli. There was a dire need to provide a vehicle to attend health emergencies for the tribals living in these areas. The hill tribals lacked emergency health care facility and had to travel all the way to Salem.

Let there be quotas in private sector


[ THURSDAY, MARCH 14, 2002 3:17:32 AM ]

Social justice is an essential pre-requisite for any kind of social development and prosperity. It is on such a premise that the rule of reservation was based.

The Andhra Pradesh government, acting on its unique understanding of liberalisation, globalisation and privatisation, has repeatedly made it clear that there would be no fresh recruitment of government employees, except of policemen and teachers.

It is in fact retrenching staff, despite the well-known fact that unemployment figures are rising at an alarming rate.

The only area where recruitment is taking place is the private sector. It is wholly logical that the rule of reservation is extended to this area as well. Doing so would inconvenience none, including the chief minister.

Actually, it would be good for him, considering his desire to be a role model for the country.

The Indian School of Business is a typical example. When captains of industry and commerce came up with the concept for such an institution, states like Maharash-tra and Karna-taka insisted that they implement the rule of reservation if the school had to be located in their territory.

The business leaders therefore decided to ground it at Hyderabad, as Mr Naidu set no such condition. It was here that the cat came out of the bag.

Mr Naidu gave them land worth Rs 200 crore virtually free and, at the state's expense, created infrastructure such as roads and electricity. The Congress fought tooth and nail for reservation in the business school but the TDP government would not have it.

Mr Naidu does not want to put the industrialists to any kind of inconvenience on the presumption that they are against reservation. This has quietly exposed his ulterior motives.

These days when organisations are getting flatter by replacing the hierarchical system, reservation in the private sector is meaningful and creates a win-win situation for everyone concerned.

This is not to say that reservations ought to be implemented at every level of a private company. The rule could exclude top and senior middle-level management. Specialist posts such as consultants could also be exempted.

Is it asking for too much that reservations be implemented at the lower levels such as labour, unskilled and contingency staff? More details could be worked out when industrial houses are taken into confidence on this issue.

Andhra Pradesh showed the way when the Brahmananda Reddy government implemented reservations for the other backward classes (OBCs), twenty years ahead of the other states or the Centre. This is yet another opportunity for the state to show the way.

Mr Naidu wants to lose out on this chance. He is absolving himself of any social responsibility. The scenario is such that if this neglect of social responsibility is allowed to go on over a period of time, it will create a social divide of dangerous proportions. Lest the government has forgotten, social responsibility is sacred.

EXCLUSION AND OPPRESSION The Evolution Of Dalit Politics


It is understood that with the BSP in the fray there has been a qualitative shift in Dalit politics and, indeed, in the Dalit mindset.

There are two realities that have marked the Dalit condition in this country ever since colonialism and Western education began introducing modern, egalitarian ideas about society and politics. These are — exclusion and oppression. Till the emergence of the BSP as a political force in the 1980s, the focus of Dalit political activity and social reform was exclusion.

Phule, Gandhi, Ambedkar

This is not to say that there was no awareness of the fact that it was accompanied by various kinds of injustice and exploitation that would have warranted a more aggressive approach towards the caste system, but the priority, initially, was to ensure that Dalits regained their humanity and registered their presence, if not as agents of social and political transformation, then at least as beneficiaries of progress. This is clear if we look at the career of a Dalit reformer such as Jyotiba Phule who organised schools for lower-caste boys in Pune in 1852, recognised the fact of Dalit oppression by Brahmins and the upper castes, and yet avoided any confrontation with the Brahmins who ran the Bombay Education Society and supplied text books to his schools.

Phule understood that colonial authorities had only a limited stake in the kind of social stability ensured by the caste system and put the Dalit case directly before them, receiving handsome grants from the dakshina fund, initially set up to pay the salaries of pundits, but subsequently taken over by the British and used to start vernacular schools in Maharashtra.

Even though he was bitter about the Brahmin domination of colonial bureaucracy, something that should have invited a strong political response, Phule preferred to concentrate on his educational projects in the belief that the first task before Dalits was to fight exclusion, in other words, secure a place for themselves in the new society in the making.

This reformist thrust later found its way into Gandhian discourse that tackled other areas of exclusion such as temple entry, the use of common spaces such as wells and ponds and so forth. The use of the term Harijan was significant precisely because it sought to redefine their status as children of God, that is, not as victims, but as people who require special attention. Gandhi, besides, had good things to say about the caste system and did not think that untouchability, as the Dalit problem was known then, was something that Hindu reformism and national emancipation couldn't tackle over a period of time, through prayaschitta (repentance). The responsibility of taking the Dalits along vested not in the Dalits themselves, but in upper caste "benefactors".

Things begin to change with Ambedkar. He was the first to think about a direct confrontation with the Hindu social order and the upper cases, the first to articulate a theory of Dalit political emancipation through Buddhism.

It was also Ambedkar who laid the foundations of Dalit empowerment by demanding separate electorates for the Depressed Classes —the colonial term to describe the Dalits — even though he had finally to relent on the idea, sign the Poona Pact with Gandhi and agree to joint electorates. But the idea that Dalits should be led by Dalits, for the Dalits had made it to the public sphere and would remain there with, ultimately, spectacular results. Ambedkar, however, had two problems, one, political, the other conceptual.

Patron-client relationship

Although he was a prominent public figure, he remained a leader of the Mahars of Maharashtra, people of his own caste. The difficulties of forging a pan-Dalit identity and consciousness that would subsume all the scheduled castes nationwide were yet to be resolved. Even the BSP, the most successful Dalit party till date, relies overwhelmingly on the support of Jatavs or Chamars in Uttar Pradesh where the caste has a significant presence. The conceptual problem was with Buddhism, which allowed Dalits to make an exit from the caste system, but did not provide the Dalits with a programme for struggle that catered specifically to their historical situation. It is true that there is an anti-Brahminical core in Buddhism, and it is certainly more egalitarian than Hinduism, but its primary focus is individual redemption, not social change or revolution. It does not cater specifically to Dalit needs. Besides, conversion, in a sense, may also induce a false sense of emancipation, without altering actual status : to say one is a Buddhist is also to say that one is no longer a Dalit and, therefore, not involved in the Dalit fight. To fight oppression, one has to put one's identity as oppressed in the foreground. As an ideological tool for combating the dominance of the Brahmins and the upper castes, Buddhism's utility is limited. So, with Ambedkar too, the emphasis was more on creating a political space for Dalits within the mainstream, rather than provoking collision with the existing social order. Ambedkar founded two political organisations — the Scheduled Caste Federation and the Republican Party of India. Neither had any great success. In 1962, the RPI contested 68 parliamentary and 301 assembly seats, winning a total of 14, all of them in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra. Further, out of a total of 89 reserved seats in Uttar Pradesh, the RPI won one seat each in 1962 and 1967.

Dalits remained with Congress right upto 1980. Why? To begin with there was the policy of job reservations for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes that the Dalit electorate identified with the Congress, mainly because both Nehru and Indira Gandhi maintained an aggressive and radical pro-poor rhetoric which Dalits were prone to interpret in their own favour.

Secondly, there was no leadership worth its name. The most prominent Dalit leader of the Congress era was Jagjivan Ram, a status quoist, as Kanshi Ram would put it succinctly. Plus, the Congress established, everywhere, patron-client relationships whereby Dalits were given protection and were "looked after", more in symbolic than real terms, by local Congress notables. Sociologists have called this "vertical integration" in which the lot of those at the bottom is improved without disturbing the basic hierarchy.


The change came after 1977. Under the Emergency, land reforms were pursued rather aggressively and created a new class of landowners drawn mainly from the intermediate castes who, besides, had been the principal beneficiaries of previous land reform efforts too. In 1989, VP Singh announced the implementation of the Mandal report which would reserve jobs for other backward castes.

This led to the emergence of the first political formations based almost exclusively on caste. For Dalits, it was a road to be followed. Secondly, the reservation policy for SCs had created a middle-class Dalit intelligentsia who knew how power worked and suffered from it. Kanshi Ram is the best known product of this process. An employee of the Explosive Research and Defence Laboratory in Pune, he floated a backward and scheduled caste employees federation in 1978.

What Kanshi Ram understood was that the time had come to utilise institutional mechanisms of power to fight on specific issues, instead of picking up a broad historical and social quarrel with the upper castes in general. It was no longer a question of extracting concessions from or the seeking the protection of upper caste benefactors, but of demanding the legitimate rights of the Dalits as equal citizens of the country. A whole new political rhetoric, aggressive and even insulting, was deployed not only against the upper castes, but also against other mainstream political formations, above all the Congress. Between 1989 and 1993, the BSP took the Dalits away from the Congress. Its focus was oppression.

It is true that the Dalit Panthers were the first to take up Dalit oppression as an issue in the mid 1970s, but they conducted their struggle outside all institutional framework, were more concerned with venting their anger and frustration rather than achieving concrete objectives and, finally lost themselves in a futile battle over the renaming of Marathwada University. Kanshi Ram had no time for this. He saw that power could be had and things could be done. The idea was to foist a Dalit leadership, working for the Dalit masses on Dalit issues, on the mainstream. That has been done.

The author is Senior Leader Writer, The Statesman.

Conversion helped Prema Cariappa?

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE MARCH 14. Congress circles, which were surprised by the choice of the former Mayor of Bangalore, Prema Cariappa, as one of the party candidates for the Rajya Sabha elections, are asking whether she was helped in the selection by her conversion to Buddhism.

Ms. Cariappa has declared herself a "Buddhist Coorgi". It may be recalled that when she was first elected to the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike in 1990 from the Maruthisevanagar ward, she was a Hindu (Kodava). But in 1996, the ward became a reserved seat. She got over the problem by becoming a convert to Buddhism. Buddhists are placed in the list of OBCs in the State-category IIA.

10,000 houses for slum-dwellers in state soon


BANGALORE: The state government will construct 10,000 houses in the first phase for slum-dwellers throughout the state in the next four to five months under the Centre's Valmiki-Ambedkar Awaas Yojana (housing scheme), Housing Minister Qamarul Islam said here on Thursday.

Speaking to reporters here, Islam said construction would be taken up by the Nirmiti Kendras, Land Army Corporation and the Karnataka State Slum Clearance Board. "Construction would commence shortly as the places and beneficiaries have been identified and the project report is ready," he added.

He said as part of the "Nirmala Jyoti" and "Swatcha Bangalore" schemes announced by Chief Minister S.M.Krishna, 19 Sulabh Shouchalaya complex were inaugurated in Bangalore city on Thursday.

"This is part of the proposed 104 modern toilet complexes proposed to be taken up throughout the state at the cost of Rs 7.38 crore which is funded by HUDCO," he added.

According to Islam, Union Urban Development Minister Ananth Kumar has approved the state government's proposal to construct 279 Sulabh Shouchalaya toilets in various parts of the state especially in tourist destinations under VAMBE scheme.

"The state is utilising both VAMBE and Nirmala Bharata Yojana schemes announced by the Centre to the maximum extent," he added.

Karnataka Slum Clearance Board Chairman C.R.Narayanappa complimented Kumar for responding to the board's proposal of providing basic amenities to slum dwellers in the state.

Asked about the rehabilitation of the victims of fire at Gangondanahalli slum recently, Narayanappa said they would be accomodated in new houses to be constructed by the board in an one- acre land belonging to the BCC.

. Monks move with the times



ANGTOK: Kunnee Phung Wa usually goes to bed well past midnight; he likes to tinker around with computers; and his favourite film is Biwi No 1. Kunnee is among 500-odd students who are undergoing training to become a Buddhist monk at Karma Shri Nalanda Institute, adjoining the famous Rumtek monastery.

While the majority of the students at the institute are from Sikkim, Tibet, Bhutan and Nepal, he has come all the way from a village in Taiwan to train to become a monk. The institute awards students with a master's degree in Buddhist studies and many graduates go on to teach in all corners of the world.

"I have always wanted to be a bhikshu. It is quite common for people in our village to become monks," he says in broken Hindi. He goes on to add that often people become a bhikshu only for a short period and not for their whole life. However, Kunnee is not one of them — he wants to remain a monk for the rest of his life.

Training to become a monk is arduous business. Kunnee is up at 3 am and his day begins with meditation and study of Buddhist texts. The day ends at 11 pm with a two-hour study session. But often animated "debates and discussions" with his fellow students keep Kunnee awake for much longer. Kunnee has already been at the institute for six years and hopes to graduate in another four years. That is if he manages to master Sanskrit and Hindi, two subjects which have already made him lose an academic year.

The monks take time off from their rigorous routine to watch films on television and video during holidays. For a man who has chosen ahimsa and celibacy as a way of life, Kunnee's choice of films is eclectic. Besides Hindi potboilers, Kunnee loves watching karate flicks. He clearly believes in keeping work and pleasure apart.

DSS demands dismissal of Gujarat govt

DH News Service

GULBARGA, March 14

Condemning the Godhra carnage in Gujarat and its aftermath, the Karnataka State Dalit Sangarsh Samithi (Sagar faction) today took out a procession in the City demanded the dismissal of the BJP Government in Gujarat, and the banning of the Vishwa Hindu Parishat (VHP). The procession led by KSDSS State Organising Convenor D G Sagar, started from the Dr Ambedkar statue at the Jagat Chowk, and passing through the main thoroughfares in the City, via the Sardar Vallabhai Patel Chowk, culminated at the mini-Vidhana Soudha.

Addressing the protesters there, Mr Sagar, condemning the killing of 58 people who were traveling in the Sabarmati Express, stated that the persons who were involved in this heinous crime should be punished, and that no leniency should be shown towards them. However, he criticised the VHP by stating that it was wrong on part of the VHP to whip up communal passions among the people in the country. This had led to the killing of more than 1,000 persons belonging to the minority community in Gujarat alone, which was the worst of the massacre of a single community in the country till date, he added.

He charged that the VHP, taking recourse in the Godhar carnage, had whipped up communal passion, and was also holding meetings, processions, etc, damaging the secular fabric of the country in the process. He also charged that the person who had caused communal ill- feelings in the country by taking out a Ram Rath Yathra, was now the Home Minister of the country. A sworn Rastriya Swayam Sevak (RSS) man was now the chief minister of Gujarat, and a woman who had shouted, "give another push" at the time of demolishing the Babri Masjid was now a Union minister, he added.

Stating that the Gujarat Government had completely failed in protecting the innocent lives against the attack by the VHP cadres, Mr Sagar demanded the dismissal of the BJP Government in Gujarat. He also called for the permanent banning of fascist organisations like the VHP and Jamayat-E-Islami. As it is the duty of the Government to protect the lives of the people, Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee should see to it that communal forces are reined in, and if he could not do it, he should resign.

Mr Sagar also demanded the State Government to take up security measures, and see that the VHP or its others organisations did not create trouble in the State. He stated that the KSDSS was holding dharnas at all the district and taluk head-quarters in the State today demanding the dismissal of the Gujarat Government and the banning of the VHP, and for peace to prevail in Gujarat.

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Published on: March 15, 2002
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