[WSF-Discuss] PMARC : Dalits Media Watch - News Updates 05.05.14
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Sat May 3 20:14:40 CDT 2014
*Dalits Media Watch*
*News Updates 03.05.14*
*Untouchability Another 'Gujarat model'-** News Click*
*Disturbing trend: Political untouchability of Dalits-** Hindustan Times*
*Untouchability Another 'Gujarat model'*
*Anupama Katakam, May 2, 2014*
Despite laws making it punishable, untouchability continues to exist in the
country in a vicious manner. A study titled "Understanding Untouchability:
A Comprehensive Study of Practices and Conditions in 1,589 villages",
conducted in Gujarat by the Navsarjan Trust, an organisation that promotes
the rights of Dalits, in collaboration with the Robert E. Kennedy Centre
for Justice and Human Rights, puts together staggering data on the
obnoxious practice that gets neglected by both the State and Central
governments. The survey was conducted from 2007 to 2010.
A sample of the findings indicates how deep the rot is. In 98.4 per cent of
the villages surveyed, inter-caste marriage was prohibited, and inter-caste
couples would be subjected to violence and would often have to leave the
village. In 98.1 per cent of the villages, a Dalit could not rent a house
in a non-Dalit locality. In 97.6 per cent of the villages, Dalits touching
the water pots or utensils of non-Dalits was considered defilement. In 97.2
per cent of the villages, Dalit religious leaders would never be asked to
perform a religious ceremony in a non-Dalit area. Read
At a well in Natwargadh village in Gujarat during a drought, a file
picture. In 29 per cent of the villages surveyed, Dalits were denied access
to common wells or taps. In 71 per cent of the villages, there was no water
tap in the Dalit localities.
*Disclaimer:* The views expressed here are the author's personal views, and
do not *necessarily* represent the views of Newsclick
*Disturbing trend: Political untouchability of Dalits*
Former Uttar Pradesh<http://www.hindustantimes.com/elections2014/uttar-pradesh>
chief minister Mayawati's mentor Kanshi Ram often used to say, "I give
total freedom to my opponents to divide and rule Bahujan Samaj. But it is
my right to unite them and get them their forfeited rights." Though Kanshi
Ram could not unite the Bahujan Samaj that 'forms 85% of the population',
his mission succeeded in bringing Dalits and the most backwards under the
umbrella of Bahujan Samaj Party.
Perhaps Kanshi Ram couldn't foresee that their struggle for political
identity and empowerment would one day politically isolate dalits fighting
social untouchability. The 'political untouchability', especially of Jatavs
(Mayawati's caste), amongst the dalits in an intensely polarised UP has now
become a disturbing trend.
Few parties and candidates visit the homes of dalits to seek their support
as it is presumed that they, more so the Jatavs, will climb the elephant
only. Analysing the voting in his Samastarhar village (central UP), farmer
Ram Badan says: "Eighty per cent voted for Narendra
except for them."
The 'them' is for Mayawati's supporters.
During her reign, Mayawati was known for pursuing '85% (Bahujan Samaj)
versus 15% (others) politics' while executing development projects. Her
recent statement reminding dalits of how Bhim Rao Ambedkar launched a
struggle against untouchability and embraced Buddhism is seen to have
deepened the divide.
The division is also within those regarded her core voters, who prefer not
to discuss their political choice unlike vociferous supporters of SP and
BJP. While one section "will vote for Mayawati, whether she wins or loses",
the other resents the "mistrust of non-BSP parties even if we vote for
Badri Narain of Dalit Resource Centre attributes this 'new phenomenon' to
the cracks in Mayawati's social engineering that had brought dalits and
Brahmins together. "Dalits became less isolated after Brahmins, who can
raise or reduce respectability of any caste in the society, joined hands.
Now the erosion of BSP's Brahmin base has again isolated them," he says.
Other dalit experts and leaders view this political untouchability as an
extension of social untouchability.
According to Congress leader Vijay Prakash, befriending Brahmins was a
temporary phase in Mayawati's politics built around consolidating dalits by
abusing the upper castes. The divisions thus created had a bearing on the
state's bureaucracy too.
Meerut-based Ravi Prakash, a former student leader of Charan Singh
University, has a different take. "They wanted dalits to remain downtrodden
and docile. After Kanshi Ram empowered and united them under the BSP
banner, other parties stopped approaching the dalits because they did not
want to waste time on hathiwallas," he says. But, he adds, even the BSP has
started to take the dalits for granted. "Social activism thus needs to be
delinked from political activity."
Agra-based Devi Nandan Sone feels the problem lies in twisting Ambedkar and
Jagjivan Ram's socio-political vision for the emancipation of dalits to
acquire power. Mayawati is thus seen as isolating her vote bank from the
political mainstream in trying to unite the Bahujan Samaj for her ambitions.
*News Monitor by Girish Pant*
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