Modi on an overdrive to woo Dalits in Gujarat

http://indiatoday. intoday.in/ site/Story/ 94480/India/ Modi+on+an+ overdrive+ to+woo+Dalits+ in+Gujarat. html Courtesy: Mail Today

 Modi on an overdrive to woo Dalits in Gujarat

D. P. Bhattacharya Ahmedabad, April 25, 2010

It appears Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi has gained a headstart over Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Nitin Gadkari in trying to woo the Dalits. Modi, who had maintained a strictly caste- neutral image, has of late been singing praises of Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar. And if Gadkari made it a point to visit Mhow, the birthplace of Ambedkar, only during the party’s national executive meet at Indore in February, Modi had cast his net much earlier. On the Republic Day’s eve, Modi took out a gigantic rally in the Dalit- dominated Surendranagar town of Saurashtra. A decked- up elephant carrying an oversize model of the Constitution was taken in procession as part of the rally, a salute to Ambedkar. Then again on April 14-Ambedkar’ s birth anniversary- the Gujarat government released full- page advertisements in the state’s vernacular dailies. These newspapers also carried a piece by Modi taken from his to- be- released book on social equality. Even the invitation to Modi’s book release event-scheduled for Monday-carries a photograph of Ambedkar besides that of the chief minister himself. Modi has also published a link to his article on his blog, which, too, was started on April 14 last. The first post on the blog is about Ambedkar and carries a photograph of the Dalit icon. “Today is (April 14), the 118th birth anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar. I pay my humble tribute to this great personality who was born in the underprivileged section of the society and overcame the difficulties and challenges he faced. His mantra was: ‘Educate yourself, come together and stand for your rights,'” the post reads. While it remains to be seen how effective such overtures will be, there are rumours in the BJP state unit that they are the result of Modi’s aspirations to stake claim at the Centre as the next OBC leader of the party. Modi belongs to an OBC community in north Gujarat called Ghanchi. A senior member of the Gujarat BJP said: “He has maintained a caste-neutral image at the state and national levels. However, to stake claim at the Centre, he will need an edge over the others. And what could be better for it than acceptability among the scheduled castes? As it is, the party has not been the first choice of scheduled castes.” Not everyone in the party agrees, though. “Such a paradigm shift may not go down well with the core constituents of the party, comprised mostly of upper caste people,” a BJP functionary said. But if there are doubts about Modi’s moves within the BJP, the Dalits have their man marked. “He (Modi) may now be warming up to Dr. Ambedkar for political ends, but nothing significant has been done to change the lot of the Dalits in Gujarat in the past 10 years,” said Jitendra Makwana, a Dalit youth from Ahmedabad. “The BJP has been writing us off as it knows the Dalits will never vote for the party. Some BJP workers even told us they won’t take Dalit votes,” he added. Manjula Pradeep, a Dalit rights worker, said: “Such gestures from Modi stem purely from a political agenda.” “He is hoping to erase the blemish of the communal riots in 2002 with such gimmicks,” she said and added that if Modi was serious about Ambedkar and his philosophy, he should ensure the Dalits’ right to enter temples across the state.

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Dalits and Afro-Americans Struggle for Freedom

Dalits and Afro-Americans Struggle for Freedom

 By S. Umanathan

 The liberation for freedom is a global struggle of the oppressed people. The oppressed people of the world experiences the similar historical sufferings as well as they find similar paths to liberate from their sufferings. The Dalits in India and the Afro-Americans share many similarities in their sufferings, struggles and ideologies. The Afro-American has their roots in Africa and suffers due to the racial hegemony of the Whites from Nordic regions. Similarly the Dalits too traces their roots from Africa and claim that they are descendents of the Africans. This approach of Dalits has been scientifically proved by the geologists that once upon a time the present day India and Australia were part of the African continent. The anthropologists are also close to this approach and identified Dalits of South India as Proto-Australoids race who were the original inhabitants of the Indian soil and were settled before the Dravidians (Mediterranean) and Aryans (Nordics) conquered the land. The defeated original inhabitants have been suppressed and oppressed by the invaders and treated as outcaste and untouchables. In India subcontinent, we find African features in many of the sculpture in pre-Christian era. Even many of the Buddha’s statues and arts were found with African features. Race is not purely a biological concept. It is also social and cultural. The white supremacy and cultural domination denied the oral and little tradition of African descendants in South Africa and America. Similarly, the Hindu supremacy denied the Buddhists and other shamanic traditions of African descendants in India. The Institutionalized racism denies the access to education, employments and many other civil, political and economic rights and forces African descendents to subhuman living conditions in townships and ghettos. It uses state to pass laws to answer the resistance of African descendents with genocide. This is the reality of institutionalized oppression and is the favorite tool of a formerly overt—currently subversive system of racism. The Dalits are barred from access to resources that would allow them to enhance their position in the social, economic and political strata of Indian life. The Dalits are vulnerable to “domination, exploitation and oppression by powerful, aggressive, and arrogant self serving socio-economic and political interests”. The institutional racism rampant in South Africa, where the entire system of South Africa depended upon the subjugation of blacks and the elevation of whites—from education, to economics, to religion, to politics. Where education was concerned, many native Africans were forced to Bantu education which was an inferior form of education that did not venerate African heritage. The whites dominated education systems propagates the rights of European to civilize “Barbaric” and “Uncivilized” people. The imposition of religious faiths and beliefs justifies the slaveries of African descendants and supremacy of whites. Whites sought to institutionalize an unequal society in the name of civilizing the noble savage. In South Africa it was, in part, the use of Christianity that promulgated the dehumanization of black South Africans, thus justifying the denial of rights and citizenship to black South Africans (MacDonald, 2006). The Brahmanical Hinduism justifies Nordic Aryan supremacy over Dalits and imposes punitive measures to those who deny accepting it. The practice of Christianity and Hinduism as an exercise of power has historically oppressed and arguably continues to oppress others to solidify the authority of the oppressing group, whites and higher caste Hindus respectively. The material manifestation of wealth, political representation, cultural hegemony, is authorized by some ever-present, all knowing entity. God/gods who believe in institutional oppression, cultural repression, economic exploitation and religious domination need be reexamined. Both Dalits and Blacks developed alternative religious philosophies and theologies to counter dominant religious beliefs within and without. Black liberation theology helped many Dalit Christians to develop Dalit liberation theology to questions the racial systems in the churches. Denial of religions and acceptance of humanism is a part of Black and Dalit consciousness movements. Dr. Ambedkar’s Dhamma or the assumed political theology of the Dalits is essentially different from religion. According to Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, religion is personal, dhamma is social; religion explains the world, dhamma reconstructs the world; religion is concerned with god, soul, and salvation, dhamma is concerned with ending human suffering. Dhamma in other words is moral action for social change. Like other forms of liberation theology, Amdedkar’s Buddhism indicts the powerful and the privileged for the inequality and suffering of society, views the poor as the victims of exploitation, and calls for the elimination of suffering through social action. Dalit ideology is infused with and/or comprised of Buddhist philosophy. Because Buddhism questions the caste hierarchies paves the ways to bring revolution for transforming society. The Philosophies expressed in Buddhism are existed as the antithesis to the religious faiths and belief which justifies the societal relations based on inequality and injustice and challenges the status quo. The development of the Dalit and Black Consciousness movements stemmed from various discriminatory and racist practices that created an intense irritation in the people, an irritation that incited them to action. Misguided interpretations of human rights declarations and bills of rights in Indian society denied Dalits certain rights by concluding that Dalits were not human beings and thus not entitled to the rights of such declarations, bills and constitutions. Dalits have been and continue to be forced to slums without basic humanitarian conditions. In South Africa, only whites had political power because black South Africans were denied citizenship. Such acts as the Native Land Act restricted land ownership where only 7.2% of the land was allotted to blacks while whites owned the remaining land (MacDonald, 2006). Whites also restricted the movements of blacks through the pass laws (MacDonald, 2006). These existing conditions set the tone for the revolutionary rhetoric and movement of the mid to late twentieth century i.e. the earlier movements of the African National Congress (ANC) in South Africa, Dr. Ambedkar’s movement in India and the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. People of African descent must recognize the international and transnational implications of moving as a collective and must develop strategies and movements that will address the unique nuances of a connected world. Understanding the rhetorical strategies that have been used gives a gauge of the successes and challenges of revolution, and while revolution is more than words, words (and experiences) are what raise consciousness and make action possible.

SC/ST Act misused: Govt

 

http://in.news. yahoo.com/ 32/20100427/ 1053/tnl- sc-st-act- misused-govt_ 1.html

SC/ST Act misused: Govt

Tue, Apr 27 09:30 AM
New Delhi, April 27 — The Centre on Monday told the Lok Sabha there
have been cases of misuse of a key law meant to prevent atrocities
against Dalits and tribals. In response to a question, Minister of
State for Social Justice and Empowerment D Napoleon said that there
were 6,564 false cases in 2008 across India under the Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, called the
PoA Act.

This Act provides for a sentence of up to five years for atrocity
committed or humiliation heaped on a Dalit, and provides for the
setting up of special courts for trial of cases. “Under the caption,
‘cases declared false on account of mistake of fact or law’, 6,564
cases pertaining to atrocities against Scheduled Castes, during 2008,
have been mentioned,” Napoleon said.

He, however, said there was no proposal to seek amendments in the law.
Of these, 2287 false cases came from one state: Rajasthan.

Andhra Pradesh followed at 1,577 false cases. Uttar Pradesh, the state
with the largest Dalit population (21 per cent of the state’s 160-70
million), was third with 843 false cases.

Punjab – the state with the highest proportion of SCs at 29 per cent
of the population – has had just 52 false cases registered in 2009.
Delhi is the last in the list with three cases in 2008.

However, Dalit groups have complained that atrocities on Dalits were
going unchecked.

Modi on target again for his remarks on Ambedkar

http://news4u.co.in/?p=60470

Modi on target again for his remarks on Ambedkar

 Published on April 28, 2010 by admin News4u News desk-Ahmedabad,

Gujarat Congress leaders today hit out at Chief Minister Narendra Modi for his remarks on B R Ambedkar embracing Buddhism. During his speech at the launch of his book yesterday, which is a compilation of Modi’s articles and speeches on Ambedkar and social issues, Modi had said Ambedkar embraced Buddhism instead of Islam or Christianity because these religions were not originated in India. According to Congress leaders, Modi has misinterpreted Ambedkar’s social, political and religious views. “Chief Minister said that Ambedkar left Hinduism but did not convert to Islam or Christianity and embraced Budhdhism, which was originated in India,” Congress general secretary Girish Parmar said. “This is CM’s interpretation which is absolutely baseless. He must read Ambedkar to know why he deserted Hinduism to accept Budhdhism as his religion,” he added.

Mayawati, leader of the low-castes, proves key for govt

http://www.moneycon trol.com/ news/politics/ mayawati- leaderthe- low-castes- proves-key- for-govt_ 454430.html

 Mayawati, leader of the low-castes, proves key for govt

The pivotal role played by Mayawati, a self-proclaimed leader of the “untouchables” , in ensuring India’s Congress-led government’s victory in parliament highlighted the importance of smaller parties and a rough road ahead for reforms. Last-moment support from Mayawati, chief of the Bahujan Samaj Party that champions lower castes, helped the ruling coalition trounce by a wide margin an opposition sponsored vote of confidence on Tuesday over a hike in fuel and fertiliser prices. But the fickleness of the allies who supported Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s government underscores the difficulties he and his reformist aides would face in their efforts to further open up the economy and cut down subsidies. Bills include those to allow more foreign stakes in pension and insurance sectors, and to permit foreign universities to set up local campuses, are all on hold due to political opposition. “When it comes for foreign investment or opening up products to market forces, like in the case of petroleum, reforms become a major issue. They can’t go to the (smaller parties) for support,” D.H. Pai Panandikar, head of think-tank RPG Foundation, said. While few expected the government to lose the vote over high inflation, disputes over a women’s bill and a cricket scandal had seen many allies of the coalition either withdraw their support or waver in their support. Enter Mayawati, who goes by one name and who was touted as a possible prime minister before she performed worst than expected in last year’s general election. This year, her million-dollar spending on statues of herself and parks in Uttar Pradesh, one of India’s poorest states, has raised a storm of criticism. But despite this, her 21 lawmakers proved crucial in giving Congress a stable majority. Congress has 207 members in the 545-member lower house of parliament. On Tuesday, the government had the support of 289 members, just 16 over the half-way mark, a pointer on how close a vote can go if the opposition effectively unites. While Mayawati charged Singh’s government of policies that caused hardships to people, she appeared keener this time to court government favour and deflect criticism as chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state. “While we should have normally voted against the government, we do not want communal forces to return to power in the garb of these issues,” the former school teacher told a news conference. Singh’s government was also brought home safely by a thinning of the anti-government alliance, when the 27 members of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) walked out on the vote, just weeks after they had demanding it. Like Mayawati, they blamed the Congress for high inflation and other woes, but cited as reason for their shift a reluctance to vote alongside ‘communal forces,’ shorthand for main Hindu-nationalist opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). _PAGEBREAK_ MAYAWATI, OTHERS, SEEN FICKLE The 54-year old Mayawati is no friend of the Congress. Both parties are locked in a bitter struggle to control Uttar Pradesh, the state which sends the most number of lawmakers to parliament. The party, which has tried to spread its wings beyond Uttar Pradesh with limited success, has earlier aligned with both the Congress and the BJP, guided by its founding agenda of being in power and using the government to benefit its lower caste voters. “She has saved the government, but where do we go from here? In the future she will not maintain this position,” said Sudha Pai, a professor at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University and an author of a book on the party. Pai said Mayawati’s decision came on expectation the Congress would pipe down its criticism of issues like using government funds to build colossal states of herself. Analysts say the Congress looked set to rule till its five-year term ends 2014, but would have to wheel out its dealmakers each time crucial legislation is up for approval, further complicating the rocky road to freeing up the economy. “I think it is a somewhat stable equilibrium, ” Abheek Barua, chief economist at HDFC bank, said. “There is a symbiotic relationship between the Congress and the smaller parties.”

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