Minister tenders apology, Oppn walkout over book


Chhattisgarh Home Minister Nand Kumar Patel was forced to apologise in the state assembly, after the house was adjourned for a brief period following a furore when he appealed to the chair to initiate police action against members possessing the banned book Brahman Kumar, Ravan Ko Mat Maro.

The entire opposition later staged a noisy walkout after accusing Chief Minister Ajit Jogi of inspiring and telling people to write books and articles which could hurt sentiments of people.

Patel tendered the apology after the chair took strong objection following protests by the entire opposition over his appeal that marshalls be allowed to search members to find out if they had the banned book and initiate police action against them.

It is objectionable and the Minister should beg apology and also withdraw his statement, deputy speaker Banwarilal Agarwal, who was in the chair said.

Raising a call attention motion on the banned book, BJP members alleged that there could be law and order problem because of the publication of the book.

However, pandemonium prevailed, when Patel stated that some members have brought the book inside the house and marshalls should be sent to search the members, so that police action could be taken against those found in possession of the book.

Tribal sub-plan: Medha for SC-ST Dept. handling funds

By Our Staff Reporter

KOCHI, NOV. 26 Ms. Medha Patkar, social activist and environmentalist, feels that the Tribal Sub-Plan (TSP) funds should be handled by the SC-ST Development Department and not by the panchayats.

``I respect and support the Adivasi-Dalit Samara Samithi's demand (that the TSP funds should be reallocated to the department and distributed by the Integrated Tribal Development Project)'', she said. She also called for a debate on the issue.

The State Government's move to reallocate the funds to the department, after withdrawing them from the panchayats, has annoyed the LDF and led to a walkout by the Opposition from the Assembly on Monday. The LDF feels that the reallocation would shrink the panchayats' funds availability and has alleged that the step was a move to hurt the People's Plan Campaign, the pet scheme of the erstwhile Nayanar Government.

Ms. Patkar pointed out at a news conference here on Tuesday that ideally the TSP funds should be in the hands of the panchayats. However, since Kerala has a mixed population even in Wayanad and Attappadi, the funds meant for the Adivasi welfare would get diluted if they are handled by the panchayats. She noted that `in our region' (in the Narmada valley region), the funds are were handled by the panchayats, because the Adivasis were in the majority and their political outfits were in power in many panchayats.

She suggested that once the Adivasi regions in the State are put in the Fifth Schedule and Adivasi self-rule becomes a reality, the funds could be handed over to the panchayats.

Asked about the recent trend of priests and religious organisations leading people's struggle and movements in Kerala, as in the case of the Infarm spearheading the farmers' agitation for better prices, she said she found no wrong with these as long as the people's problems got highlighted and resolved. ``They have a space in the struggles,'' she said. The priests and religious organisations were taking the political space because of the ineffectiveness of the political parties and leaders. As for the criticism that the priests' intervention would lead to communalisation of such issues, she suggested that people should be `careful' about such fallout.

Ms. Patkar praised the increasing role being played by the media in the struggles of Adivasis and marginalised communities. However, she was not happy with the media focussing on individuals rather than on the movements as such media treatment tended to harm the movements.

Karnataka to fill quota vacancies by Jan. 31

By Our Special Correspondent

BANGALORE, NOV. 27. The State Government has ordered direct recruitment of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe candidates, said to be an unprecedented move, to fill all vacancies reserved for these two categories in all departments, boards, corporations and other agencies including universities.

Mr. Kagodu Thimmappa, Minister for Social Welfare and Horticulture, told presspersons here today that the direct recruitment of SC and ST candidates would be backed by specially- drafted rules called the ``Karnataka State Civil Services (unfilled vacancies reserved for the persons belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes) (Special Recruitment) Rules 2001.''

While heads of departments have been authorised to recruit candidates under ``C'' and ``D'' categories, the Karnataka Public Service Commission would recruit candidates under ``A'' and ``B'' categories. There would be no written tests for candidates and the recruitment would be based on merit in the qualifying examination.

The Directorate of Social Welfare has asked all departments, boards, corporations and other government agencies to send it the number of vacancies and ensure that all vacancies were filled by January 31. Failure to comply with this directive would entail prosecution under the provisions of the SC and ST Act, which included, among other things, imprisonment for six months.

While the initial estimation was that there should be at least 7,000 vacancies including those arising out of promotions, reports said the vacancies would have crossed the 15,000-mark following certain changes that the Government had brought about. This had been worked out on the principle that 18 per cent of all posts should be reserved for the SCs and STs.

Referring to the salient features of the Special Recruitment Rules, the Minister said the SCs and STs had been given a two- year relaxation. While the age limit was 38 earlier, it had now been increased to 40. Initially, the recruitment would be reserved for candidates in the 29-40 age group. If sufficient number of candidates were not available, then those in the 18-29 age group would get a chance. ``We want to ensure that all vacancies are filled before the specified deadline,'' he said.

The Government had been trying to fill these vacancies in the last one year but the process was delayed owing to various factors including the drafting of rules. The final notification on the rules was issued on November 21.

``We are confident that all these vacancies will be filled and it should be a bonanza to the SCs and the STs who have the Constitutional right to claim these positions. Such an exercise was undertaken in the past too but in vain as they were not backed by appropriate rules,'' Mr. Thimmappa added.

Rs 40-cr housing project for Dalits

Our Correspondent

The Tribune

Mandi, November 28

A Rs 40-crore housing project for Dalits has been approved by the Union Ministry of Urban Development under which 10,000 houses for them would be constructed in the state. Stating this here yesterday, Chief Minister Prem Kumar Dhumal said Union Urban Development Minister Anant Kumar had assured that the project would be cleared shortly for Himachal Pradesh under a centrally sponsored scheme, “Baba Ambedkar Bhavan Nirman Yojna.”

He said these houses would be built in places where there was a presence of Valmiki community, including Mandi town.

Earlier, Mr Dhumal inaugurated Vipasha Sadan, built at an estimated cost of Rs 80 lakh.

The Chief Minister said adequate funds would be provided for the early completion of the regional hospital, the construction of which has been delayed. He said the private companies working in the region were also being requested to donate money for the hospital. A cheque for Rs 5 lakh had been received by him from the Continental Construction working at Larji project. He added that the work on Suketi bridge would also be taken up shortly with the financial assistance of HUDCO. When it was brought to the notice of the Chief Minister by a BJP activist that the work on Mandi drinking water augmentation project had been held up due to petty allocation in the budget, the Chief Minister called the Chief Engineer and S.E. of the IPH Department, who briefed him in this regard. He gave an assurance that the augmentation work would be completed soon. He described the allegations against the HVC supremo, Mr Sukh Ram, that he was the stumbling block in the development of Mandi as “baseless and absurd”, adding that Mr Sukh Ram had been pleading for the development of Mandi.

He announced that the law classes would shortly be started at the postgraduate college here along with additional faculties.

Upper casteism and liberation of dalits

By MV Kamath Source: Free Press JournalA great deal of hapless controversy has been stirred because of a decision taken by the Delhi administration - run, incidentally, by the Congress Party - to prevent mass conversion of dalits to Buddhism at the city's Ram Lila grounds on 4 November.The Delhi police apparently cited two reasons for preventing the holding of the meeting, one, that it was being organised with the help of the All India Christian Council and two, that some organisations like the Vishwa Hindu Parishad were opposed to it. The charge has been made by one Kancha Ilaiah, author of Why I Am Not A Hindu beside being Professor in Political Science at Osmania University, Hyderabad.

Ilaiah is a dalit and one can understand his anger. But the reasons adduced for preventing mass conversion of dalits are ridiculous.What business does the All India Christian Council have in the matter of conversion of dalits to Buddhism? And why on earth should the Vishwa Hindu Parishad get embroiled with the issue? Notwithstanding the steps taken by the Delhi police, it is believed that about a lakh of dalits embraced Buddhism on that day, just as, half a century ago, Dr B R Ambedkar did, along with thousands of his followers. If that has made life easier for dalits, so much the better. Embracing Christianity orIslam hadn't done dalits of another generation much good since "upper caste" Christians or Muslims had no use for the dalit converts, a fact too well-known for reiteration. There are scores of Church graveyards where dead dalit Christians don't share the bounty of mother earth with their upper caste co-religionists.Even in life, rare is the occasion where an "upper caste" Christian male would marry a girl from a dalit Christian family. Changing one's religion does not necessarily bring social acceptance to the dalits. But Prof Ilaiah cannot resist throwing some mud at certain Hindu organisations as when he asks: "what right do Hindutva organisations like the VHP and RSS have to claim dalits as Hindus when they are not given the right to religion, priesthood and food culture within the temples and other religious institutions?" The question is irrelevant. In the first place the RSS observes no caste restrictions and freely admits dalits to its membership. In the second place, the VHP is not an apex body such as the Vatican, to lay down the law as to admission of dalits to temples and to priesthood.

Not even the Shankaracharya can exercise such power.Furthermore there is nothing to prevent the dalits, from among themselves, to set up their own priesthood, to cater to their needs. Many tribes have their own priests and nobody challenges their rights. There is no law which states that dalits should not read the Gita or the Upanishads or should not learn Brahminic rituals. And practically every caste and sub-caste has its own priesthood. It is true that in some `backward' states, dalits and girijans have been at the receiving end of the caste stick. In its sixth Annual Report, the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (SCs and STs) has pointed out that atrocities against SC/STs continue with the highest number of cases (6,122) registered in Uttar Pradesh, followed by 5,623 in Rajasthan and 4,667 in Madhya Pradesh.In tribal tracts, the incidence of sexual crimes against Girijan girls is notoriously high.

Harassment and killings of dalits and Girijans are reported even from areas in Telugu Desam dominated by the Naxalites of whom respect for the poor is expected. The SCs/STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the Protection of Civil Rights Act have turned out to be toothless legislations to bring the culprits to book. One rarely hears of sexual crimes against SCs from urban areas, partly, one suspects, because SCs are relatively well-off economically and partly because they have better access to justice. But what needs to be stressed is that Hindu society is not monolithic; the so-called chathurvarnas the fourvarnas ( a word, incidentally, hard to define) was based on guna-karma (character and vocation) and originally was not hereditary. As in any society, social intercourse is dictated by one's social and economic status or why would Bernard Shaw have written My Fair Lady? How many instances can one provide of a member of the British (or French or Austrian) nobility marrying one from the lower classes? It is unfortunate that during the Vedic times, as Acharya, P V Kane has noted, smriti writers tried to place all their dicta in the framework of the varnas because the four varnas and their duties and privileges had been more or less clearly defined in the times of the Vedas and Brahmanas". And yet throughout the centuries people - Hindus themselves - have revolted against the caste system. The process, as S V Desika Char has rightly noted in his Caste, Religions and Country, had several facets. First, there was the accent placed on the `ideal' of the varna system, decrying the degeneration that had set in. A `true' Brahmin was to be honoured in whatever caste he was born.Caste itself was not condemned because it had certain utilitarian values. But honouring and canonizing reformers coming from the lower varnas has always been part of the Hindu social system. Hailing the Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu and of Siva in Greater India is the first classic instance in the historical period. Krishna is a Yadav; Rama, a kshatriya. Both are honoured by all castes, including brahmins! The Buddha, incidentally had a good Brahmin following and we are specifically told that the principal disciples of Mahavira, eleven in number, were Brahmins. The Vaishnava and Saivite saints of the sixth-to-ninth centuries in Tamil Nadu came mostly from non-brahmin castes.

We have the formal canonization of the sixty three Nainmars (Saivite saints) and twelve Alvars (Vaishnavite saints) most of whom were non-Brahmins and many hailed from the lowest castes. Desika Char notes that among Shri Vaishnavas, Nammalvar was a Shudra, who became the founder-father of the Kutastha sect. And is it realised that while Sri Ramakrishna Paramahansa was a brahmin, Swami Vivekananda, his favourite disciple, was a kayastha? Centuries earlier, many of the saints canonised by - of all people! - the orthodox, came from among the lowest castes and the unlettered - Tiruppana Alvar among the Vaishnava saints, Nandanar among the Saivite saints and Haraliah among the Lingayats belonged to the untouchable caste? The Sahajiya sect, which was of importance in the 17th-18th centuries, was noted for its total opposition to caste and rejection of the brahmin claim to superiority.The distinguished sociologist, G. S. Ghurye writes: "If the Sahajiya sect was rather a revolt, Vaishnavism could not be looked upon as such. Yet its attitude towards caste was not far different. Srinivasa, a brahmin, Ramachandra, a Vaisya, Narottam, Kayastha were all Vaishnavites and as such were not afraid to take their meals from the same plate." Desika Char quotes Periyavachahan Pillai, a noted scholar of the Shri Vaishnava sect who lived in the 13th century as saying about Hymn 42 of Tirumalai of Tondaradipodi Alvar that the spiritual relationship among devotees was what mattered most and caste restrictions regarding marriage, inter-dining and such other mundane matters were based only on custom and had no sanctity.It is easy for the ill- informed to damn Hinduism as debased or unresponsive to change. If any religion in the world has responded mightily to change, is is Hinduism, precisely because it gave elbow room to its constituent castes.

It is plainly unreasonable to paint Hinduism in vile colours because in some remote parts of Bihar or Madhya Pradesh dalits are being given a bad deal. One has to fight such crass oppression not through conversion but through enlightened efforts such as spread of literacy, empowerment of women and raising the economic levels of the dalits. And may it be said rightaway that Mandalisation is not the answer. Mandalisation has only succeeded in perpetuating caste-ism, not in eliminating it. Worse, it has created vested interests among the dalits. Just as relevantly it must be stressed that capture of political power as happened when Mayavati may have raised statues or busts to Dr B R Ambedkar throughout Uttar Pradesh during her two brief terms, but has that in even a small way changed upper caste attitudes towards the dalits? On the contrary, one suspects that it has only worsened the situation. Change must come from within Hindu society, not imposed from without.

Christianity, with all its tacit support it received from the British, made little headway during the 150 years of Christian rule over India. And at the height of Islamic rule in India the Ashrafs constituted the ruling class, monopolising all higher administrative and army posts and other gainful ways of living and formed the intellectual and ecclesiastical elite of the community. They did not put their hands to the plough. In contrast the Ajlaf came from the lower castes of converted Hindus among whom there was no significant improvement in their economic and social status.Yes, Hinduism needs to be changed. That should be the main aim of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the BJP. Hindutva must get a new definition. It must signify rebellion against casteism as practised, especially in rural areas. When will BJP leaders wake up to the fact that Hinduism calls for special efforts towards its regeneration?

Major Victory of the SC/STConfederation

New Delhi, 29th November, 2001

The All India Confederation of SC/ST Organisations have been struggling hard to get all five anti-reservation orders withdrawn which were issued by the Department of Personnel & Training in 1997. By 81st and 82nd amendments in the Constitution, two anti-reservation orders were withdrawn in the year 2000 and third order is withdrawn by 92nd amendment in the Art. 16 (4) (A) of Constitution yesterday, the 28th November,2001 in the Lok Sabha.

This amendment was brought about in the Constitution because of anamolies created by Office Memorandum(O.M.) dated 30th January 1997. According to this O.M. even if general category employees are promoted after the promotion of scheduled caste/scheduled tribe employees then also the general category employees would become senior hence dalit employees having more experience and length of service would become junior to general category employees. This affected lots of officers and employees and some anti- dalit Govts. like Haryana , Punjab and Rajasthan reverted them . This Office Memorandum also blocked the promotions of many employees. This difficulty was arisen because of the Supreme Court judgements in the cases of Ajit Singh Janjua and Vir Pal Singh Chauhan.The higher judciary, in particular, is bent upon to dilute the reservation and hence in the light of these facts, the Parliament should have put this clause in the 9th Schedule of the Constitution so that the judiciary does not get opportunity to harm the intrerest of dalits.Though the Constitution was amended in June 1995 which gave right to the SC/ST employees in promotion at all levels but it has not been implemented till date and the 92nd amendment also did not take care of it. However,the struggle will go on for getting reservation in promotion at all levels.

I thank to Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee’s Government and all parliamentarians for restoring this right.The Government tried its level best to infringe the fundamental rights of dalits and others on November 4 by withdrawing the permission to hold the Buddhism religion function at Ram Lila Ground.Despite all facist attempts, the message went very clearly across the country. Lakhs of dalits quit Hinduism and embraced Buddhism which must have sensitized Sangh Parivar to convince the Government that some concessions should be yielded to dalits.Thus the Deeksha programme built up enough pressure on Govt. to consider our demands.

UDIT RAJ (Ram Raj)


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Published on: November 30, 2001
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