Budget silent on Plan outlay for SC/STs

Budget silent on Plan outlay for SC/STs

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/features/the-sunday-et/dateline-india/Budget-silent-on-Plan-outlay-for-SC/STs/articleshow/5625970.cms

NEW DELHI: What is the budgetary outlay for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Tribes? The answer is not immediately apparent to a lay reader of

the Budget documents. For a government and a political leadership trying to establish its pro-Dalit credentials, this kind of sloppy accounting is quite surprising.

Dalit leader and Indian Justice Party president Udit Raj, for example, has demanded that the government increase the outlay for the ministry of social justice and empowerment from the Rs 4,500 crore allocated in the Budget, to Rs 61,187 crore, the share of the total Plan expenditure that corresponds with the share of Scheduled Castes in the population. While conceding that outlays of other ministries would also include the special component outlays meant for Dalits, the sheer lack of accounting transparency in this regard has led him to conclude that the government is unlikely to have allocated more than 5% of the total Plan expenditure to Scheduled Caste welfare and development.

The government now undertakes gender budgeting. A question that arises from Mr Raj’s demand is whether the government should not create an accounting framework that makes it clear how much of the taxpayers money actually goes to improve the lives of the subaltern sections of society that the government and the political class seek to uplift.

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The dalit treasure hunt

Sreelatha Menon: The dalit treasure hunt http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/sreelatha-menondalit-treasure-hunt/387073/ The social justice and empowerment ministry is linking dalit research with dalit activism, which may some day lead to celebration of dalitism Sreelatha Menon New Delhi February 28, 2010, 0:42 IST There is no end to the variety of demons that the mind can engender. The feeling of hatred or fear based on one’s position in the caste hierarchy is only one of them. In a Madurai village, some people recently went to the extent of building a wall so that they are saved the “impure” sight of dalits living in the other part of the village. In north Indian villages, a Harijan basti is a common sight. Caste-based discrimination is a mental illness, a virus that hits the brain, as Dr A Rosaiah of Tata Institute of Social Sciences Mumbai puts it. In this lunacy, all institutions become suspect. Recently, the social justice ministry’s Ambedkar Chair at Indian Institute of Public Administration (IIPA) and Pria, a non-government organisation, organised a workshop on dalit leadership in panchayats. At the event, activists pointed fingers at the panchayati raj system itself. Is panchayati raj the right way to go? Is it right just because Mahatma Gandhi recommended it? It was something BR Ambedkar, known as the father of the Constitution, was against. He felt it could not work in a caste-ridden society. There are so many cases of dalit panchayat presidents acting as rubber stamps, of panchayat presidents being forced to sit on the floor, of being forced to wash their chairs at the time of leaving. Today, if a dalit becomes a panchayat president, he becomes the worst enemy of his community, says Paul Diwakar, who heads the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights. The reason is that he is chosen by the upper caste leaders of the community. So, he acts in the interests of his “masters,” leaving the dalits feeling betrayed. This proves right the thesis of dalit leaders that India got freedom from external masters but continued to be a slave of internal masters. There had to be a cultural revolution, Ambedkar had said, to reverse the hierarchical system. How can dalits get their due? Quotas are like a balm. But a balm is not enough, for there are fresh wounds every day. Five years ago, Arun Khote, a dalit activist, started an online news magazine to document atrocities on dalits. It goes to almost everyone who matters in the country. Yet, the country doesn’t recognise the apartheid that is being played out in the name of democracy. Just shedding tears about these atrocities is not enough. There has to be a celebration of the wealth that the community stands for. The wealth of its tradition and history needs to be studied. The social justice and empowerment ministry’s Budget allocation has seen a huge jump in this Budget. It beats both the National Employment Guarantee Scheme and the government’s education and health programmes. The Ambedkar Foundation under the ministry has already made a beginning by setting up ten research chairs in ten different states. In New Delhi, the IIPA conference brought together researchers and dalit organisations. This will lead to more information on dalit culture, where seeds of a cultural revolution lie. Khote is talking about dalit festivals, dalit music. It’s a new beginning to kill the virus of hatred. The Hindu Dalits have no burial ground http://www.hindu.com/2010/02/28/stories/2010022859540300.htm MANGALORE: When a Dalit dies in Ambedkar Nagar Colony in Malavaru Gram Panchayat, the family members are forced to seek some place from ‘caste’ Hindus in the neighbourhood for cremation. “Sometimes the ‘caste’ Hindus oblige but we have been refused space for cremation several times,” said M. Bhaskar, a resident of the colony. He said there was a crematorium at Kenjar, around 1.5 km away. “But it is controlled by Bunt and Billava communities.” Dalits have been going through this humiliating experience since 2005 when the local cremation ground was acquired for the expansion of the Bajpe airport. On Wednesday, when Gulabi (45) died of cancer, the members of the community decided to put an end to this ordeal. They stormed the Malavaru Gram Panchayat office around 9.30 a.m. and started preparing the ground to cremate Gulabi’s remains right in front of the office. Tahsildar Ravichandra Naik, who arrived there finallysummoned the surveyor, who set off to find a government land for crematorium. He returned around an hour later only to state that a land was available near a Hindu temple, but the temple committee would not allow it to be used as a crematorium. The Economics Times Budget silent on Plan outlay for SC/STs http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/features/the-sunday-et/dateline-india/Budget-silent-on-Plan-outlay-for-SC/STs/articleshow/5625970.cms NEW DELHI: What is the budgetary outlay for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Tribes? The answer is not immediately apparent to a lay reader of the Budget documents. For a government and a political leadership trying to establish its pro-Dalit credentials, this kind of sloppy accounting is quite surprising. Dalit leader and Indian Justice Party president Udit Raj, for example, has demanded that the government increase the outlay for the ministry of social justice and empowerment from the Rs 4,500 crore allocated in the Budget, to Rs 61,187 crore, the share of the total Plan expenditure that corresponds with the share of Scheduled Castes in the population. While conceding that outlays of other ministries would also include the special component outlays meant for Dalits, the sheer lack of accounting transparency in this regard has led him to conclude that the government is unlikely to have allocated more than 5% of the total Plan expenditure to Scheduled Caste welfare and development. The government now undertakes gender budgeting. A question that arises from Mr Raj’s demand is whether the government should not create an accounting framework that makes it clear how much of the taxpayers money actually goes to improve the lives of the subaltern sections of society that the government and the political class seek to uplift.

Buddhist view of motherhood

Buddhist view of motherhood

by S.M. Wijayaratne Kurunegala daily news corr.

The Buddha raised the status of women in India despite criticism levelled against Him. Generally speaking, during the time of the Buddha, due to brahminical influence, women were not given much recognition. Sometimes, they were held in contempt, although there were solitary cases of their showing erudition in matters of philosophy, and so on.

There will be no Fully Awakened. One on this earth without a mother. There will be no sons and daughters on this earth without mothers. Motherhood was greatly admired and honoured by the Buddha. The most Enlightened One admonished His followers to treat their mothers similar to that of the Fully – Awakened One. So, we can understand how respectfully and nobly. He treated motherhood.
Queen Maha Maya, the mother of Prince Siddhartha passed away when the prince was only seven days old.
After passing away of Queen Maha Maya King Suddhodana married the princess Prajapathi, the sister of Queen Maya to look after and foster the motherless Prince Siddhartha. After passing away of King Suddhodana, Queen Prajapathi decided to be a Buddhist nun. With much effort and determination, she was able to become a nun at last.
Prince Siddhartha left the royal palace at the age of 29 and strove immensely to attain the Enlightenment for six years. Ultimately, he was able to be the Fully-Awakened One.
After attaining the Buddhahood, He visited His mother reborn in the heaven known as Thusitha as Mother God. The Buddha preached the profound Dhamma known as “Abhidarma” to her and made her realize the noble doctrine. She ultimately became an heir to the supreme bliss of Nibbana.
That is how He paid His gratitude to His mother who helped Him to be born into this world for His final birth.
The Buddha raised the status of women in India despite criticism levelled against Him. Generally speaking, during the time of the Buddha, due to brahminical influence, women were not given much recognition. Sometimes, they were held in contempt, although there were solitary cases of their showing erudition in matters of philosophy, and so on.
In his large-heartedness and magnanimity, the Buddha treated women with consideration and civility, and paved the way to them, too, for peace, purity and sanctity. The Buddha established the Order of Nuns (Bhikkuni Sasana) for the first time in history; for never before this had been there.
Women from all walks of life joined the Order. The lives of quite a number of these noble nuns, their strenuous endeavours to win the goal of freedom, and their paeans of joy at Deliverance of mind are graphically described in the “psalms of sisters” (Theri-Gatha) .
While the dead body of Theri Prajapathi Gotami was being taken to the cemetery in a procession, it is said that the Buddha too followed (went behind) the cortege to pay His last respects to His foster mother who breast fed Him. That is how The Buddha showed his gratitude to the motherhood. The Buddha never belittled the motherhood and women’s wisdom. He guided women to develop their insight and to put an end to this samsaric journey (the process of births and deaths) Kisa Gotamee and Patacara went mad due to unbearable sorrow of losing their beloved children.
But ultimately, they became Bhikkunis of perfect wisdom and virtues. We should not forget that the sacred Bo-tree planted in Maha Meuna Park in Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka was brought to this island by a woman. She was Theri Sangamittha, the daughter of Emperor Asoka of India. The Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha which is now enshrined in the Temple of the Tooth in Kandy, too was brought here by a woman. She was princess Hemamala from India. Queen Visakha was the chief laywoman disciple (devotee) of the Buddha during those days of the Buddha Theri Patacara became the chief female disciple of discipline in the Order of Buddhist nuns during the time of the Buddha.
Queen Vihara Maha Devi, the beloved mother of King Dutugemunu in Sri Lanka pioneered in protecting Buddhism in Sri Lanka when Buddhism and Buddhists were at the risk of destruction due to misguided non-Buddhist rulers.
The first lesson that the Buddha gave to the world was gratitude. He showed that lesson by example. He honoured the Sacred – Bo tree which supported Him to meditate by glancing at it with open eyes for a week. The Buddha always practised what he preached.
So, all of us should start practising the perfect way shown by the Buddha without further delay to enjoy the bliss of deliverance. Perfect wisdom will never come to us without dedicated efforts. Since we are presently blessed with the noble humanity, we should attempt to reap the maximum benefits of it. How can we believe that we would be blessed with the form of humanity in our next birth? Who gives us that guarantee? The power of kammic energy is unimaginable and incomprehensible.
Although our beloved parents can provide us with almost all our material requirements for the welfare of this very life here on earth, they are unable to open the doors of the next world that is filled with joy and delight. It is our well-directed mind that brings us eternal bliss of Nibbana. We should honour and respect our parents through day and night as they have brought us up with sound physical fitness. It is the sole benefit that we are presently capable of performing meritorious deeds.
Let’s pay our highest homage to the motherhood as long as we live on this earth. Under these circumstances, we should be humble enough to pay our great honour to the womenkind. Not only that, we should also protect and foster them with loving-kindness.
To re-pay for the breast-milk of our mothers that we have sucked from them to survive, we must use our all possible strength to make our mothers to tread on the path of purification as shown by the Buddha. Then only we can be satisfied that we have paid fully for the debt of her blood that she turned into white milk to feed us.

Press Statement by Concerned Citizens GOVERNMENT SHOULD RESPOND TO MAOIST OFFER

Press Statement by Concerned Citizens

GOVERNMENT SHOULD RESPOND TO MAOIST OFFER

We welcome the announcement by the CPI (Maoist) to observe a ceasefire and enter into talks with the Government of India. Given the government’s expressed willingness to engage in talks, we hope that this offer will be reciprocated. This necessarily requires a halt to all paramilitary armed offensive operations (commonly known as Operation Green Hunt) immediately. It is also imperative that there should be complete cessation of all hostilities by both sides during the currency of the talks.

We are of the view that the Central Government, and not the State Governments, should be the authority to conduct talks as the problem covers various states.

Additionally, the Central Government should ensure that, while the talks are being held, all MOUs, if entered into, should be frozen and not implemented; no compulsory acquisition of tribal lands and habitats be undertaken; and tribals should not be displaced. This is because the Central Government is bound under law to strictly comply with the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution that, among others, safeguards manifold rights of the tribals including their ownership over land and resources.

We further urge that during the period of the ceasefire and the course of talks, independent teams of observers and human rights groups should not be prevented, by either side, from going to the affected areas.

Justice Rajindar Sachar, Randhir Singh, B.D. Sharma, Arundhati Roy,

Amit Bhaduri, Manoranjan Mohanty, Prashant Bhushan, Sumit Chakravartty, G.N. Saibaba, S.A.R. Geelani, Madhu Bhaduri, Karen Gabriel, P.K. Vijayan,

Saroj Giri, Rona Wilson, Anirban Kar

New Delhi

23 February 2010

Concerned Citizens

c/o Sumit Chakravartty

B 57 Gulmohar Park (1st Floor)

New Delhi – 110049

Untouchable prejudice

Untouchable prejudice

AMRIT DHILLON, NEW DELHI February 27, 2010

A Dalit (“untouchable”) man sits on the outskirts of the city of Lucknow. A Dalit (“untouchable”) man sits on the outskirts of the city of Lucknow. Photo: Reuters A VIBRATION of sympathy ran through the audience at the recent Jaipur Literary Festival in Rajasthan as author Omprakash Valmiki, his voice trembling with indignation, spoke of the daily humiliations suffered by his community. As one of India’s 160 million ”untouchables”, Valmiki is part of an emerging genre of writers now telling their stories of centuries of abuse under the rigid and hierarchical Hindu caste system. Brimming with anger and bitterness at the injustices meted out by upper caste Hindus for more than 2000 years, the writing has a singular quality to it: raw and jagged, full of anger and pain. His people, Valmiki told the audience, were not allowed to wear decent clothes, ride on a horse during marriage processions, draw water from the village well or remain seated while an upper caste person was standing. Indeed, the very word ”untouchable” hurts – denoting a status so lowly it falls outside the caste system, a system that deems untouchables too filthy for higher castes to touch, and which has in the past decreed that molten lead be poured into the ears of untouchables who tried to memorise Hindu sacred texts, and that the tongues be cut from upstarts who dared to read them. Hardly surprising then that many of India’s 160 million untouchables would rather be known by a term of their own choosing, ”Dalit” – the word is derived from the Sanskrit for destroyed or crushed – much as African Americans rejected ”Negro” during the civil rights movement in the US. As Valmiki spoke, the largely upper caste audience almost visibly winced with embarrassment. Dalit children, he continued, were seated apart in school, forced to sweep the classroom and given water in different glasses. Upper caste Hindus refused to be treated by a Dalit doctor or rent their homes to Dalits for fear of ”pollution”. The session’s title, Why Hindus Feel No Shame, had been chosen by Valmiki’s colleague, Dalit writer and academic Kancha Ilaiah. “Whites in America fought alongside the blacks in the civil rights movement in the ’70s. White South Africans fought to end apartheid,” said Ilaiah. ”But which upper caste Hindus have fought to end untouchability?” In the Hindu system, the four castes are, in descending order, the Brahmins (priests and teachers), Kshatriyas (rulers and warriors), Vaishyas (merchants and traders), and Shudras (servants). The ”untouchables” are outside the caste system and as outcasts, their very touch pollutes a high caste Hindu who regards them as ”unclean”. The reason Hindus had never struggled to end untouchability, said Ilaiah, author of the acclaimed Why I Am Not a Hindu, was because they felt no guilt, this absence arising from their conviction that the caste system was morally just. Thus, said Ilaiah, although untouchability was a much deeper form of human degradation than racial discrimination, upper caste Hindus could countenance it without discomfort, the segregation being, in their world view, divinely ordained. Racism, he continued, had for many years dictated that black Americans could not sit next to whites on buses or in restaurants. In South Africa, it had meant that blacks could not vote. ”But if a white person touched a black person, he did not have to go and bathe because the black was ‘unclean’,” he said. ”The black person was still regarded as a human being created by God. ”But Hindus have to bathe if they touch a Dalit because God himself, according to them, created him as an untouchable.” That Dalit literature was a special theme at a mainstream book festival such as the now globally known Jaipur Literature Festival, attended by Indian and international authors, was thanks to festival co-founder and publisher Namita Gokhale. ”I wanted to bring this genre to the attention of a wider audience. Their voices, their stories need to be heard. They have a message for India about the deep injustices in our society that have been glossed over for millennia,” she said. Although the Indian constitution bans any caste-based discrimination, the reality is quite different. True, owing to affirmative action in politics and government jobs, Dalits are more visible than before in these two spheres of Indian life. But few Dalits can be found in the world of books, music, film, theatre, art and the media. India has no famous Dalit actor, model, singer, journalist or television personality. No Dalit version of the Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire – portraying the lives of Dalits sympathetically – has ever been made. And even today, Dalits, who form 17 per cent of India’s 1.2 billion people, continue to be subjected to routine brutality. Against such a backdrop, even the act of writing a book becomes a powerful gesture, asserting the right to intellectual creativity for a community that has never before moved beyond simple survival. ”By writing, Dalits are claiming their right to beauty instead of being confined to struggling for bare necessities,” said Dalit novelist Ajay Navaria, who teaches at Jamia Millia Islamia University in New Delhi. Political scientist Christopher Jaffrelot sees Dalit writing as a specific literary genre. ”It gives us a new history of India, a history from below, a history that is not found in the textbooks,” he said. It was inevitable, he said, that Dalit works should be full of rage and rebellion, for it was the first time in their history that Dalits were narrating their experiences. ”Just as with feminism and the American civil rights movement, the first wave of writing tends to be autobiographical.” This is not to say that upper caste Indian authors have never portrayed Dalits in their novels. On occasion, they have, but these characters are invariably drawn as passive victims. ”When Dalits write about themselves, it is a totally different kind of writing. It is a cry of anguish. It is very moving and powerful,” said Jaffrelot. S. Anand, head of Navayana, which exclusively publishes Dalit works, believes it is impossible for Dalits to sever their relationship with pain, which is why their works make uncomfortable reading. ”When your entire early experience has been shaped by caste cruelties, it can never be a light-hearted, easy read,” he said. The days when untouchables had to wear a bell around their necks to alert any approaching high caste person so that the latter could quickly cross to the other side of the path to avoid being ”polluted” may be over, but other forms of dehumanisation flourish, particularly in the countryside, where 75 per cent of Indians live. Valmiki, writing in his book Joothan, describes being forced by the headmaster to sweep the classroom in the village school he attended while the upper caste pupils studied, and writes of how his parents, whose caste required them to remove human excrement from upper caste toilets, squatted outside the homes of upper caste villagers, waiting patiently for leftover food to be thrown out. Years later, Valmiki feels sick whenever the memory of those days returns. ”It was not so much that we had to eat the leftovers but the fact that we were so hopelessly poor we relished them. That is what rankles still.” Elsewhere in Joothan, he describes how, not being recognised as a Dalit, he is mistakenly treated with kindness by a family. They invite him home for tea. Valmiki’s heart melts with gratitude on being treated like a human being. Not all people are wicked, he thinks to himself. Minutes later, his host asks him his name and, realising his mistake, throws Valmiki out, hurling obscenities at him. Valmiki defends the genre against critics who have derided Dalit writing as lacking in literary merit, dismissed it as propagandist or claimed that the stark portrayals of injustice have been exaggerated. ”What they don’t understand is that the Dalit literary movement is not just a literary movement. It is also a cultural and social movement because Dalit books portray the aspirations and wishes of tormented Dalits,” he said. Even at the Jaipur Literary Festival, some people furtively exchanged quizzical looks as P. Sivakami, until recently a senior civil servant in Tamil Nadu, spoke about her experiences. Sivakami said caste kept intruding into her life, no matter how hard she fought to escape it. As the guest of honour at a school, she had recently stood alongside an upper caste colleague as they watched a procession of Dalit students. ”The first thing my colleague said was that they were ‘too pretty’, they couldn’t possibly be Dalit girls,” said Sivakami. Her latest Tamil novel, translated into English as The Grip of Change, marks a departure from Dalit literary tradition, tackling the male domination of the Dalit social movement rather than recounting her childhood experiences. S. Anand is never surprised at the charge that Dalit authors exaggerate their suffering or the degree of caste consciousness in India. As a Brahmin who had a Dalit girlfriend at university, he had been sceptical too the first time his girlfriend remarked that he was getting higher marks than her for literature because he was a Brahmin and the department was full of Brahmin lecturers. ”I was shocked at her assertion. I didn’t believe caste played any part in it. But … once, because she was feeling lazy, I wrote a paper for her and submitted it in her name. It was good because I worked hard at it. It got only reasonable marks. ”Later, I wrote a very shoddy and mediocre paper and submitted it in my name. It got top marks. I realised they were not marking me but marking me as a Brahmin,” he said. Even among his liberal friends, Anand is constantly struck by how little they realise the unconscious exclusion they practise when it comes to Dalits. ”They don’t realise it is manifested in every choice we make – who we eat with, what we eat, who we marry. If I point out, say, that they have never had a Dalit over for dinner, they say it’s not deliberate but that is exactly my point. That we practise exclusion without being aware of it.” AUTHORS such as Sivamani represent a new breed of Dalit writers who are moving away from autobiographies and exploring issues of identity, patriarchy or sexuality. For example, Anand is publishing an anthology soon of Dalits writing on love. And Navaria, a rising star in Dalit literature, has written about a gigolo’s travels in India and recounted his relationships with non-Dalit women in which a niggling worry is that he might be attracted to them only because they are not Dalits. Dalit literature is also slowly emerging as a discipline of academic study. The department of English at Pune University features Dalit and African-American literature in a course entitled ”Literature of Protest”. Jamia Millia Islamia University has received support for an endowed chair in Dalit studies from the Ford Foundation. While he welcomes such developments, Ilaiah is convinced that it will take someone from outside India, perhaps a Hollywood director or a European author, to make a film or write a book that will make Hindus ashamed of what they have done to Dalits. ”We need someone who can portray the evil of caste in a way that captures people’s imagination globally, because we have tried and failed to rouse the conscience of the upper castes,” he said. ”If creative Western minds can portray the evils of the Holocaust or apartheid, why not untouchability?” Amrit Dhillon is a Delhi-based journalist.

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