By Our Special Correspondent
HYDERABAD March 23. The Assembly tonight adopted a bill providing for the establishment of an independent State Commission for Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
Piloting the bill, the Minister for Social Welfare, J. Pushpa Raju, said the commission was being set up on the basis of the recommendations of the Justice Punnaiah Commission which studied living conditions of the SCs and STs in the State and made far- reaching suggestions to improve their lot.
The Minister admitted that atrocities on SCs and STs persisted and the two-glass system of caste discrmination, obtaining in some places in the State was a slur on society.
The State-level permanent commission was intended to safeguard the rights and interests of these underprivileged sections of society, he pointed out. The State Commission would be headed by either a sitting High Court Judge or retired Supreme Court Judge and would consist of five members.
M. Thippeswamy (Cong.), K. Jayaram (TDP), K. Laxman (BJP), N. Narasimhaiah (CPI-M) and others spoke.
The House passed the A.P. Motor Vehicles Taxation (Amendment) Bill which will allow the A.P. State Road Transport Corporation to pay M.V. Tax on a monthly basis instead of paying the same in four quarterly instalments.
The Minister for Transport, B.V. Mohan Reddy, piloted the bill. The House also adopted another bill, moved by the Minister for Municipal Administration, N. Mohd Farooq, providing for extension of the term of special officer of the Palasa-Kasibugga Municipality in view of the staying of the elections by the High Court
TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ MONDAY, MARCH 25, 2002 3:38:55 AM ]
EW DELHI: The ministry of law, justice and company affairs has come up with lackadaisical responses to the report of the ministry's committee on the welfare of the SCs/STs.
The ministry's "action taken" report on the recommendations of the com ittee, tabled in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday, shows that very little action was taken for reservations for SCs and STs in the judiciary and the setting up of National Judicial Commission and All- India Judicial Service.
The welfare committee's report had found the ministry's inaction regarding its recommendations on SC\ST reservations "astounding". In its reply, the law ministry merely said: "The reservation exists in judicial cadres of the state governments/UTs in the district judiciary."
The National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) was looking into the issue and has sought views from the people, it said.
On the committee's demand that SC/ST additional district judges be considered from the state judicial services, the ministry's response was: "Appointment of state judicial service officers as judge of a high court is made on the basis of seniority and suitability."
On setting up of the National Judicial Commission, the SC\ST committee's report had said the government's stand is "dubious". However, the law ministry in its reply reiterated its promise: "One of the items of the NDA's agenda for governance is to set up a National Judicial Commission to make recommendations for judicial appointments in the Supreme Court and high courts and draw up a code of ethics."
"The goverment," the ministry said, "is committed to the idea of setting up a commission...There is already a broad national consensus." Similarly, the matter relating to creation of All India Judicial Service, the ministry replied that the issue was "under consideration."
The ministry also gave the information regarding reservation in appointment of officers and staff cadres of the courts. According to the figures, states with sizeable ST population like Andhra Pradesh, Orissa and Madhya Pradesh had so far only 0.69 per cent, 0.84 per cent and 1.72 per cent ST staff respectively in high courts.
Dalit organisations stage protest
GULBARGA, March 24 (DHNS)
Protesting against the reported desecration of an Ambedkar statue at Huvinahadagali town in Bellary district, different Dalit organisations today stage a rasta roko agitation in front of the main bus stand in the City today.
According to reports, some miscreants garlanded the Ambedkar statue at the Ambedkar Circle in Huvinahadagali town with a slipper-garland and had reportedly poured liquor on the statue on Friday night. In protest against this incident, the members of the Dalit Panthers of India, Karnataka Dalit Sangarsh Samithi, Bahujan Samaj Party, and other Dalit organisations staged a rasta roko agitation in front of the main bus stand here today for nearly 45 minutes.
These Dalit organisations have demanded the immediate suspension of the Bellary deputy commissioner and the Superintendent of Police holding them responsible for the incident. They also demanded the immediate arrest of the miscreants, and to extricate them form Bellary district.
They have sent a memorandum to this effect to Chief Minister S M Krishna, though the Gulbarga Deputy Commissioner. However, the memorandum was received by Deputy Superintendent of Police Someshakhar Matapathi.
Charging that the atrocities on the Dalits had increased, and that such desecration of Ambedkar statues in the State had increased after Mallikarjun Kharge had become the Home Minister, the protesters demanded his immediate resignation owning moral responsibility for the Bellary incident.
The rasta roko today was led by Dalit leaders like Arjun Bhadre, Mallappa Hosmani, Suryakanth Nimbalkar, Devendra, Shamrao Hirapur, Sharanabasappa Herur, Umakanth Kumsi, Gautam Ambalgi, and others.
CONDEMNED: Meanwhile, in a note here today, the Republican Party of India and the Pragnya Youth Association of Hirapur has also condemned the Bellary incident. Pragnya Youth Association President Santoshkumar Melmani condemning the incident, demanded immediate action against the miscreants. He stated that, the S M Krishna Government, after coming to power in the State, had pledged to protect the Dalits in the State. Let alone protecting the Dalits, the State Government was even incapable of protecting the Ambedkar statues in the State, he added.
He demanded that the miscreants should be immediately arrested, and that protection should be provided to all the Ambedkar statues in the State. Republican Party of India (RPI) District President A B Hosmani demanded that the miscreants should be extricated from the district, and that the Bellary deputy commissioner, superintendent of police, and the concerned police sub-inspector should be suspended immediately holding them responsible for the incident.
DH News Service
GULBARGA, March 24
There is a need to bring changes into the Dalit culture in accordance with the modern times, opined the Gulbarga University Kannada Research Centre Director P K Khandoba here today.
Speaking after inaugurating a seminar on "Dalit Consciousness" held under the aegis of Samatha Samskruthi Sambhrama programme organised jointly by the Kannada and Culture Department and District Administration here today, Prof Khandoba said those who were talking about saving the Dalit culture, were themselves exploiting the Dalit culture for their selfish ends.
He stated that the culture and art forms of the Dalits have been growing since the ages. However, there was a need to bring changes into this culture in accordance with the modern times, he added. He maintained that without bringing in changes to the Dalit culture, it was impossible to uplift the Dalits. Quoting the example of Yakshagana and Shivram Karant, Prof Khandoba said, Mr Karant was successful in gaining international recognition to Yakshagana only after he brought basic changes to it. However, art forms like "Doddata" and Dalit art forms have remained at the regional level as changes have not been brought into them from time to time, he added. He stated that the people who opposed changes to the Dalit culture, did not want the culture to grow.
Speaking on the topic "Dalit Culture after Independence", Dr T M Bhaskar stated that Dr B R Ambedkar wanted the land and assets in the country to be nationalised and divided equally among the people, so that everyone got his share. Dr Ambedkar fought for the rights of the Dalits to enter the villages and get the water form the common wells, he said.
Samatha B Deshmane spoke on "Dalit Culture", D B Nayak spoke on "Consciousness of Kannada Literature" and Subbarao N Enttyethnavar spoke on "Consciousness of Arts". Kannada and Culture Department Deputy Director Rajendra Yarnal, Assistant Director Basavaraj Hugar and others were present on the occasion.
Dalit Solidarity Network
A delegation from the Dalit Solidarity Network (DSN) met the Indian High Commissioner Nareshwar Dayal to draw attention to the reports of caste discrimination after the Gujarat earthquake last year. In January the UK Disasters Emergency Committee ( DEC ) issued a 150 page report into the responses to the earthquake. This demonstrated that there was considerable discrimination by caste in the distribution of relief. Less aid went to the lowest castes and " arguably animals did better than the poorest people ", said the report.
The delegation was led by Jeremy Corbyn MP, and included DSN Chair Revd. David Haslam and journalist Ann McFerran. Ms. McFerran undertook an investigation in Gujarat last November, her report published in the " Sunday Times " on Sunday March 24th. She gave the High Commissioner a wide range of examples of conditions under which the Dalits, the former untouchables, are now living. Some have received no relief despite the considerable amounts of aid to the area.
The High Commissioner argued that very many good things had been done by the Indian authorities in the aftermath of the earthquake, but said that discrimination in the distribution of relief should not happened, it is against the law. He promised to forward Ms McFerran's findings and the DEC report to the Indian Government for comment.
DSN have been in correspondence with the UK Government Department for International Development (DfID) on the issue. DfID says they have handed their resources on to be administered by the Asian Development Bank and World Bank. Their Department has passed on the DSN concerns about caste discrimination to these two institutions. The Network will now be taking up the results of the DEC report with the UK Government.
The delegation also rasied the issue of the recent communal violence in Gujarat and pressed for the Government Inquiry to include investigations into the role of senior politicians and the police in the failure to stem the violence. They gave the High Commission reports from colleagues in India which gave graphic details of the failure of the authorities to prevent Hindu mobs from attacking and killing innocent Muslims.
Convenor: David Haslam, London
Thursday, March 28, 2002 (Vadodara):
The real fires of Gujarat are burning, not so much in bigger cities, but in its tribal areas. Two weeks ago NDTV travelled to Vadodara district to find that there had been looting and burning. Nothing has changed since then.
From remote villages, the violence has now spread to small towns like Chotaudaipura. In Tejgarh village near Chotaudaipura, shops and businesses owned by the minority community have been completely destroyed by mobs in the last few days.
Yusuf Khatri, a shopowner, said, "After remote areas, they have moved here. Everyday more and more shops are burnt."
Ramesh Bhai Shah, sarpanch of Tejgarh, informed, "These people come from outside and they come with their faces covered." Even in Chotaudaipura, where the local police and Army units are headquartered, arson and looting are becoming a daily occurrence, with many of these incidents reported during curfew hours. Jameel, a local resident, said, "A shop was burnt here a few days ago at night. Shops are getting burnt despite police presence." Local police authorities say that they do not have a large enough force to cope with these attacks. K Doram, deputy superintendent, Chotaudai pura, claimed, "We do not have a large enough force. We do what we can. The district administration cannot give us any more troops."
While the Gujarat government may claim that the situation in the state is well under control, the daily influx of nearly 20 new families in a relief camp of Chotaudaipura is just a small example of what the real picture looks like.
Monday, March 25, 2002 (Mewat, Haryana): The centuries-old caste system is still deeply entrenched in some areas of the Mewat district in Haryana. The dawn of the new millennium appears to have bypassed villages in Mewat where people have to make countless trips to the village wells in the summer months to fetch water. But some people have to make more trips that the others.
The ten families of Balmikis - considered as one of the lowest castes in the Hindu caste structure - in Bhadas village have to wait sometimes for hours at the wells and pumps till an upper caste Hindu or a Muslim gives them water.
"The wells are separate. Earlier even the currency notes and money that we used to give were washed by the others," says Chandra Mani, a resident of Bhadas village.
It's a similar story in the surrounding villages as well. Despite being dominated by Muslims, the caste structure which divides the Hindus is firmly in place even among the Muslims - particularly amongst the elders who maintain that wells should be separate.
Although the younger generation takes a more lenient view, no one seems to be willing to change the old order.
"The system exists for generations and no one has felt the need to challenge it yet," says Chandra Mani's neighbour Altaf Hussain.
An NGO has now stepped in to help the Balmikis. It has built a well specifically for them. "The need for a separate well for the Balmikis was felt when they told us that even the Muslims insist that they would give the community water from their hands," says Zaffer Hussein of the Sehgal Foundation.
While digging a separate well will help the Balmikis tide over the water crisis, it will take much more to end the centuries of discrimination still faced by the community today.
TIMES NEWS NETWORK [ SATURDAY, MARCH 30, 2002 2:51:21 AM ]
YDERABAD: A sum of Rs 12.94 crore with Rs 6.10 crore under non-plan and Rs 6.84 crore under centrally sponsored schemes for post-matric scholarships for SC and BC students for 2001-2002 has been sanctioned by commissioner, social welfare.
The scholarships will be given to fresh students and also renewals for students from the Intermediate to the post-graduate level, including engineering, MBBS, pharmacy, MCA, MBA and other courses recognised by Osmania University, according to a press release issued by the Hyderabad district public relations officer.
Day scholars studying Intermediate will get a scholarship of Rs 115 per month and day scholars pursuing degree courses will get a scholarship of Rs 150 per month. Non-local students doing their Inter, degree or post-graduate courses will get Rs 400 per month and students attached to hostels will also receive Rs 400 per month.
Further, students attached to hostels and studying in post-graduate courses will get Rs 525 per month as scholarship.
A stipend of Rs 600 per month will be given to Ph D students and Rs 500 per month for students of M Phil courses, the press release said.
DH News Service
UDUPI, March 29
Legal action will be taken against administrative boards of the colleges demanding high fees and donations from the students belonging to the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes (SCs/STs), cautioned Deputy Commissioner Gourav Gupta.
Speaking at a meeting held recently at DC's auditorium, he said several such complaints have been received against some private colleges of the district. Good results can be expected from the students from SCs/STs if they receive encouragement from the principals and the administrative boards of the colleges, he added. Speaking on the occasion, Deputy Directors of College Education and Pre-University Education said the fees and donations higher than that fixed by the Government is illegal. Many Dalit leaders, speaking at the meeting urged for a strict action by the Government to put an end to such a practice of extracting heavy fees from SC/ST students. The meeting was attended by the district backward class and minorities' department's official Shivappa, district social welfare officer Vasanth Raj Shetty, college principals and office bearers of Dalit Sangharsha Samithi.