Eliminating untouchability is first step to ending caste’ R. RAJARAM SHARE ·

`Eliminating untouchability is first step to ending caste’

R. RAJARAM reporter-The Hindu

The Hindu CALL FOR SOCIAL REFORM: CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat addressing the first State conference of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front at Pudukottai on Saturday. Annihilation of the caste system should be the goal and the first step is to eliminate untouchability, Communist Party of India (Marxist) general secretary Prakash Karat said on Saturday.

Untouchability was the worst feature of the caste system in the country, Mr. Karat told the first State conference of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front here. "Even after 62 years of Independence what we find in our society is that caste transcended all classes. Though the Constitution proclaimed equality, we still find it did not go with the ground reality," Mr. Karat said.

Struggle against the caste system should go along with struggle against socio-economic and class exploitation. What was needed was a social revolution which could not come without fighting and abolishing the caste system.

The Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front had been engaged in path-breaking activity over the last three years fighting all forms of caste discrimination and untouchability. Even people outside Tamil Nadu were looking up to the Front as an inspiration in their struggle against oppression. The Front should bring under its fold all those who were against caste discrimination and untouchability and it would become a genuine instrument in bringing about social change in Tamil Nadu, he said.

Earlier, Mr. Karat released a collection of short stories authored by Aadhavan Dheetchanya on atrocities committed against Dalits.

Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front convenor P. Sampath called for starting branches of the front at all levels within the State. The front had created confidence among the oppressed communities.

General secretary of the All-India Vivasayigal Sangam K. Varadharajan, CPI (M) State secretary G. Ramakrishnan, party MLA S.K. Mahendran and All-India Democratic Women’s Association general secretary U. Vasuki took part in the conference.


Addressing a public meeting organised by the front here, Mr. Karat said the CPI(M) would demand, in the next session of the Parliament, an action taken report on the recommendations of the National Commission on Religious and Linguistic Minorities headed by Justice Ranganath Misra.

Though the Centre had placed the commission’s report in Parliament it had not acted on that. The CPI (M) would be in touch with other parties in this regard. The commission had made two major recommendations — to provide reservation up to 15 per cent in education and offer job opportunities for the minorities, who were socially, educationally and economically backward. It had also recommended that those of Scheduled Caste origin, irrespective of religion, be brought under the scheduled caste reservation, Mr. Karat said.

The CPI (M) had been demanding that Dalit Christians and any person of Scheduled Caste origin, irrespective of religion, be provided reservation.

Mr. Karat said the economic policies of the Centre had adversely affected the livelihood of people. The policies limited the opportunities for the Dalits as the government had downsized and banned recruitment to various departments. "So where is the reservation for SC and ST?" Mr.Karat said and pointed out that there was no reservation in the private sector.


He called upon the oppressed communities to fight the privatisation, liberalisation and globalisation policies of the government as it was the only way to protect their lives.

The government was promoting privatisation of higher education and allowing business houses to start educational institutions. Foreign educational institutions had also been allowed. This way, education would go out of the reach of SC, ST and other backward communities as there would be no reservation.

Mr. Karat said a powerful struggle had to be launched to protect the rights of the Dalits and other oppressed sections. The goals and aims of social reformers like Dr. Ambedkar and Periyar had not been fulfilled even after 62 years of Independence, he said, calling for a fight against caste oppression. Untouchability in any form could not be witnessed in Communist-ruled States, he observed.

A good tribal is a displaced tribal, ready to move out with folded hands


They say, there are three sides of a story.. mine, yours and the right side.. Someone says there is a fourth side, the wrong side… Another says there is a fifth side, theirs. So, everyone has his or her side of the story. There are many sides to a story. But that side is not the whole story. Who has the perspective ? Who has got the whole story ? Posing the problems is easier than resolving them, with Sincerity. Again, the question is, who is sincere about solving the problems ?

Well, why people take to violence could have many reasons. Even murders are justified, very unfortunately. But am sure no one wants to get killed. Similarly, I believe, not many (except a psycho, perhaps ) would willingly or happily kill if given the opportunity to lead a normal life with an opportunity to live with some dignity.

Who are these Maoists ? As a mother, I know the concerns of a woman who has carried a baby in her womb. Even a tribal woman in the deepest forests has the same dreams of a woman in the most advanced society of this world. And �I strongly believe that every parent hopes and dreams for a share of a dignified life for her/his child.. Apparently, our present problem of violence, termed as Maoism or Naxalism in India, has emanated from the fact that our (tribal) children, in those states, have been treated as children, as if of a lesser god. And, all will surely agree, discrimination and injustice, cannot be accepted or tolerated for too long. Some can be exploited and suppressed for sometime. but all cannot be befooled all the time.�

In his recent letter to the President of India, dated 17 May 2010, Dr BD Sharma, former Commissioner, SC/ST, has enumerated a list of 20 major broken promises made to the tribals of India. No.19 says "A good tribal is a displaced tribal, ready to move out with folded hands". And he is one of the few authorities on the issues of the tribals of India. As a tribal person, I endorse this view of his. The tribals of this supposed Great Nation have always been expected to move out every time, from their ancestral lands, for the sake of ‘so-called development’ of the country.�

Where are the lakhs of tribals who have been forced to vanish from their homelands over so many decades, leaving their lands for development, in the interest of the nation ? Will the ones who are running away from their homes for their lives, in the violence-ridden areas, ever return to their villages in the future ? I suspect. They will be stuck in some relief camps for �sometime… and then they will dissolve into the vast unknown world, in search of food and medicines for their little children, perhaps.�

‘If they don’t move out of those lands on their own, create a situation which will force them out, flush them out of their holes….make them leave their homes on their own.’… That seems the obvious modus operandi, the mantra for acquisiton of tribal land for ‘projects’. Correct me if I am wrong. But this is how it looks like, from this far corner of the country. Perhaps, as a fellow tribal, I empathise more. Perhaps, from this distance, my perspective is clearer. And since I am not directly affected by the neglect, injustices, deprivations and casteist-oppressions in the rest of India, I am able to talk against the violence and violations, the killings and bloodshed unleashed in those affected areas. But I think, if me or my family was one of the victims of the so-called development projects that treat the tribal people like insects (even insects are protected today !), I would have been equally angry and violent and I might not have said no to one of my children joining the cadres of the rebels, despite knowing very well that the Solution never lies in Violence.�

Friends, having expressed my solidarity to the oppressed who have turned violent, unfortunately, and having shared my sentiments as a fellow-tribal, I appeal to all of you out there, with your fingers on the keyboards of your computers, please join the faceless voices of concern to build a campaign for a review of the development paradigm in the tribal areas of India. Yes, it is very difficult when our own leaders are using us and exploiting us, but it is possible that our younger ones, who are a little more educated and aware than their parents, would get to be heard. They might feel better if they are able to decide about what they want to do on their lands. Why can’t they have that space ?

Have a good day !

In prayer,

Jarjum Ete, activist,
Former Chairperson, Arunachal Pradesh State Commission for Women.
President, Galo Welfare Society (GWS), Arunachal Pradesh, Itanagar.�
( the Galos, still listed as Gallongs as per the Constitution of India, are one of the tribes of Arunachal Pradesh – we are also working on the correction of our tribe’s nomenclature

Conversion of Budhistss

Dear Please try to do something from your end to bring government action and international Media attention.

 Thank you.

 From: Ven.Bhaddanta Aggadhamma Mahasaddhamma Jotikadhaja, Dhammaduta Secretary of Purvanchal Bhikkhu Sangha, President, Namsai Pariyatti Sasana Buddhist Vihara, Namsai – 792 103 Dist Lohit, Arunachal Pradesh, Tel: 03806-262331 Mobile: 09436049474

To Dr.Manmohan Singh, Honorable Prime Minister of India, New Delhi 24-5-2010

Sub: Forceful Religious Conversion of Buddhists into Christianity at Changlang Distt. Of Arunachal Pradesh and nexus of such activists with underground Militants.

 Dear Honorable Prime Minister,

 Since last few years, strong groups of Christian Religious activists with the active support of the underground militants have been reportedly involved in converting people of poor Tikhak Buddhist Community into Christian religion, whose life have been reeling under great insecurity and threat. The mode of propaganda for conversion they adopted are – (1) inducement with monetary and material helps, (2) coercion with allurements and advocating efficacy of Christian Science on soft targets – person (s) in ill health, prolonged sickness and precariousness, (3) forceful persuasion of person in distress with ‘false’ promise of deliverance in life, (4) Dictates their terms and issue ultimatum for conversion with stipulated time for conversion through the local underground militants like NSCN (I-M) etc. The poor Buddhist inhabitants of Tikhak Community at Putuk – I, II, III, IV, Wangnong, Motongsa, Longchong, Wintong, Rima & Machum etc. have been served with ultimatum by the NSCN (I-M) group, a Commanding-in-Charge of the Outfit, In-Charge of Nampong Circle to convert this Tikhak Buddhist hailing in the above villages to convert into Christianity, failing which they would be facing with dire consequences. The latest ultimatum is 31st May 2010 for conversion. Our villages have been situated in Changlang Distt. Of Arunachal Pradesh, places situated beyond the time-honored “Inner Line” under the binding of govt. regulation and rampant migration of human race across the border have also been witnessed which are inimical to the well-being of the natives and disturbing peace in the area. The presence of such anti-social elements are likely to be detrimental to the security of our country. Further this so-called Christian fanatics are reportedly found to have strong nexus with the underground militants NSCN (I-M) which smacks a deep conspiracy of sinister design which is posing a great threat to the safety of the people and security of the nation which demands to nip in the bud before it does more harm to the nation. The reported inflow of money from unknown source for conversion appears not unfounded. If such dangerous nexus & combination is not stopped immediately this will lead to a geographical imbalances, social tension and disharmony. The Buddhist Community strongly follows the spirit of secularism. The main tenet of Buddhism is to respect other religions, tolerance and non-violence. We sincerely believes in religious co-existence. I on behalf of the Tikhak Buddhist Community of Arunachal Pradesh would therefore fervently urge upon your honour kindly to take prompt and needful action in the matter in larger public interest and well-being of the natives and security of the nation.

Yours in Dhamma,



Copy to: Mrs.Sonia Gandhi, Chairperson, UPA

Honorable Minster for Home, Govt. Of India

 Honorable Minister for Defense, Govt. Of India

Honorable Minister for Labor and Employment, Govt. Of India.

The National Commission of Minorities The National Commission of Scheduled Tribe

Dalits – News 31.05.10

Zee News

Change ‘derogatory’ name of Raj village: NHRC to Home Min


Updated on Tuesday, May 18, 2010, 22:27 IST

New Delhi: Pose the famous Shakespearian query "what’s in a name" to the residents of a non-descript Rajasthan village and the reply unanimously is "a lot".

Residents of ‘Chamaron Ka Vas’ (home of cobblers) have been fiercely opposing the name given to it 23-years-ago and approached the National Human rights Commission in 2006 to intervene and direct authorities concerned to give it a suitable one.

The residents of the village, in Hingota Panchayat of Dausa district, have been pleading for the past four years with the state government and the Centre to change its name, which which originally ‘Kuwan Ka Vas’ (home of wells).

But, their requests were caught in a "bureaucratic rigmarole", the National Human Rights Commission which recently heard the matter, lamented.

"It is highly frustrating that a matter which was represented against in the year 2006 has dragged on, due to the bureaucratic rigmarole…" the Commission observed.

"If enough sensitivity had been displayed, the name of the village could have been changed much earlier and the feelings of a particular community could have been assuaged," it observed and asked the Union Home Ministry to get the matter expedited and inform about the decision it takes on the matter "as early as possible".

The Commission took up the case on the basis of a complaint filed by one Khem Chand and other residents of the village in 2006.

The complainants alleged that a ‘Lekhpal’ (official) of the area gave a derogatory name to their village in land records due to "ill will". The village is largely inhabited by Berwa, a scheduled caste community.

The Commission noted that the case was in direct conflict with the "Constitutional mandate" and the village was given such a derogatory name despite the Constitution clearly prohibits any discrimination on the basis of caste, religion or language.

"… the name of the village ‘Chamaron Ka Vas’ is not only derogatory but, perhaps, also constitutes criminal offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989," it noted.

"One may say, what is there in a name? But imagine the ignominy of the people living in a village of Rajasthan who have been fighting pillar to post for over two decades to restore the respectability to the name of their village," it observed.

Dausa district administration in 2002 did forward the application of the villagers to the state government recommending a new name ‘Govindpura’ for the village, but nothing happened, NHRC said.

The Commission said it was later informed that the state government agreed to change the name of the village from ‘Chamaron Ka Vas’ to ‘Kushalpura’ with the consent of all the villagers but this too could materialise as the Railway Ministry objected to the name saying that there was already a transit railway station ‘Kushalpura Halt’ and it would create confusion. PTI

Zee News

Orissa registers low untouchability cases


Bhubaneswar: Even as over 10,000 cases of atrocities on schedule caste and scheduled tribe people were pending for investigation in Orissa, only seven cases relating to untouchability were registered in 2008.

Low occurrence of untouchability in the state came to the limelight during a review of the situation here today by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik.

"Only seven cases (2.82 per cent) of untouchability against SCs were registered in 2008 under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, though 248 such cases were registered across the country," the state government told Wasnik during the review meeting.

Only seven people belonging to scheduled castes have faced untouchability problem, no tribal in the state had any complaint in this regard, the minister was informed.

"Pendency of many cases relating to atrocities on ST and SC people in Orissa is a matter of great concern," Wasnik told reporters adding the Centre had asked Orissa to expedite investigation and hearing of such cases.

As about 90 per cent of cases registered under the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and SC and ST (protection of atrocities) Act, 1989, were pending, they should be disposed off immediately, he said.

The union minister also asked the state government to reverify figures relating to registration of atrocity cases.

"While the state government claimed that 1036 atrocities cases were filed by SCs, the National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB)’s data put the number of cases at 1252," Wasnik pointed out.

The minister questioned as to why the state level and district level vigilance monitoring committee meetings were not held at regular intervals as stipulated in the law.

On delay in disposal of cases, Wasnik said the state government had assured him of its plans to set up three special courts in districts having high pendency and registration of cases under POA Act, 1989, with the concurrence of the High Court.

"The state government could not hold any such meeting in 2009 due to implementation of the model code of conduct for the general elections," Orissa’s minister for ST, SC development, minorities and backward class welfare, Bijay Ranjan Singh Bariha said.

Meanwhile, Orissa State SC-ST Youth and Student Council, in a memorandum to the union minister, alleged that though there were 200 deputy superintendents of police (DSP) rank officers in the state, the government has failed to dispose equal number of atrocity cases.

"Monthly average atrocity incidents in Orissa is about 150," said council’s president Haldhar Sethy. PTI

The Hindu

Tamil Nadu urged to form SC & ST Commission


Staff Reporter

TIRUCHI: The Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front has demanded the formation of a State SC & ST Commission with legal status and powers to intervene in issues relating to untouchability and atrocities against Dalits and find necessary solutions for them.

While seeking inclusion of secular thinkers and representatives of organisations fighting caste oppression in the district level vigilance and monitoring committees, the Front wanted the State government to strengthen these committees.

This was one among the many resolutions adopted at the first State conference of the Front held at Pudukottai on May 28 and 29. Tamil Nadu was one among the States where untouchability and atrocities against Dalits was high, the Front claimed while demanding the formation of the State SC & ST Commission without any delay.

Another resolution urged the State government to retrieve ‘panchami’ lands across the State and hand them over to the Dalits. It wanted the government to take action as per law in this regard.

The Front has decided to organise a conference of the ‘panchami’ land retrieval movement at Kancheepuram.

It demanded steps for the implementation of the Forest Rights Act 2006 that guaranteed forest rights and land rights for the Adivasis and tribals.

The Front demanded higher allocation of funds for the Adi Dravidar schools and upgradation of such schools and wanted the State government to implement the SC & ST reservation policy for the posts of teachers and non-teaching staff in those schools and colleges which were functioning with 100 per cent government funds.

Another resolution demanded the implementation of sub-quota for the Arundhathiyar community in Puducherry too.


Dalit remark sparks row between BJP and Congress


Nikunj Soni / DNA

Sunday, May 30, 2010 11:32 IST

Ahmedabad: Ahead of state wide civic body elections, political parties in the state, it seems, are busy putting each other in a tight spot. After alleging misuse of the CBI by the UPA government in the Sohrabuddin fake encounter case, the BJP is now playing the Dalit card.

As many as 18 complaints have been lodged against various Congress leaders in different towns and cities of the state, in which they are accused of hurting the sentiments of Dalits.

It should be noted that earlier the Congress had claimed that Modi had termed Dalits as ‘mentally retarded children’ during a book launch function. Following this, a complaint of defamation was filed against 12 Congress leaders. A local court in the city has also begun an inquiry under sections 202 of the Criminal procedure code (Cr.PC), following the development. "The court has accepted our application and has started inquiry under section 202 by taking the statement of complainant Kishor Makwana," said Prakash Patel, counsel for Makwana.

The latter is the author of the book ‘Samajik Samarasata’ written on chief minister Narendra Modi’s speeches on Dalits. "The case will come up for hearing next month," Patel said.Makwana, in his complaint, has mentioned 12 Congress leaders including Pravin Rashtrapal, former Rajyasabha MP, two sitting MLAs – Chandu Dabhi and Shailesh Parmar, and two former ministers Dolat Parmar and Karsan Soneri, among others. Modi had released the book authored by Kishor Makwana on April 26 at Town Hall.

The Congress had later issued statements to the media, alleging that during the function, Modi had termed the Dalit as ‘a mentally retarded child’. The complaint filed by Makwana states that Modi never made any such statement and the accusations levelled by the Congress has hurt the sentiments of Dalits.

Makwana had earlier served a legal notice to the Congress leaders to tender an apology. But when they failed to respond, he filed a complaint in the metropolitan court of the city.Meanwhile, Congress president Siddharth Patel said, "There is nothing to comment. We will respond to the complaint."

Hindustan Times

Congress must weed out spoilers


Pankaj Vohra, Hindustan Times

New Delhi, May 31, 2010

After Andhra Pradesh — where the Congress weakened itself by creating a controversy on the Telangana issue — some elements in the party seem busy trying to do the same to its government in Haryana. In Punjab, Amarinder Singh has shown why he is the best bet to take on the Akalis given the warm reception he got after the Supreme Court turned down his disqualification. The Congress is yet to take a decision on appointing a new Pradesh Congress Committee chief in the state.

In Delhi, Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit has been in the midst of a controversy regarding her government’s decision not to lower power tariffs. In J&K, the party has managed to keep afloat and seems oblivious of the fact that there is no Kashmiri Pandit in either the two Houses of the assembly or the two Houses of Parliament for the first time since Independence.

In Maharashtra, the Ashok Chavan government is going through spells of occasional instability. It is perhaps only in Rajasthan where there seems to be no threat to the Congress government from any quarter. The point is that the party leadership needs to review its policies regarding various states.

Coming back to Haryana, the unfortunate incident at Mirchpur village in Hissar district where two Dalits were burnt alive on April 19 by people of another community is being used by the opponents of Chief Minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda to corner him. What is surprising is that instead of the Opposition taking up the issue in a big way, it is the Congress leaders who are using this incident to take potshots at the CM. Incidentally, Hooda has acted on a war footing to contain any political damage to the party.

The Hooda detractors even tried to give a political colour to Rahul Gandhi’s unannounced visit to Mirchpur to re-assure the Dalits. They have now started a campaign to create an impression that Hooda’s days are numbered. The incident is being kept alive to create an impression that Dalits are not safe in Haryana and the dominant Jat community is committing atrocities on them.

The Congress high command has acted cautiously and ensured that no wrong message about its concern for the weaker sections should go out. On the whole, the state government has acquitted itself very well.

Politically, Haryana is sensitive right now and to bring about a change at the top could lead to the fall of the government. In the 2009 elections, the Congress became the largest party in the state with 40 seats, Om Prakash Chautala’s INLD got 31 seats, BJP five, Bhajan Lal’s Haryana Janhit Congress six and the rest were Independents.

By virtue of the support from Independents and five out of six of Bhajan Lal’s party, the Congress formed the government under Hooda with a support of 53 MLAs in a House of 90.

It is to Hooda’s credit that he has bean able to get a sizable section of the Jats on the side of the Congress and was able to cobble the numbers to ensure the formation of his government for another term. Other than Chautala, there is no other leader in Haryana who can challenge Hooda’s supremacy. But some elements in the Congress feel that they can replace him without realising that Hooda’s exit at this stage could spell doom for the party in the state.

Similarly, in other states, the Congress high command has to identify leaders who can deliver and those who are creating mischief. The approach of party functionaries weakening its own units or governments has to be discontinued. There is still time for instance to save Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Punjab and Maharashtra from slipping away from the Congress.

India Today

His cherry blossom moment


Piyush Srivastava

Lucknow, May 30, 2010

The road to success comes through hard work and determination, and Abhishek Kumar Bharatiya has seen more than his share of both.

The son of a cobbler, Abhishek has managed to beat the odds and make it to the IIT with a rank of 154 in the SC/ ST category in the entrance examination.

His life has been an endless struggle and it’s only his zeal to carry on that saw him reach thus far. Abhishek lives with his parents and three brothers in a 10 ft by 10 ft single room in Gangaganj Machchariya area of Kanpur. It has no electricity and they have to make do with a kerosene lamp.

The priorities of Abhishek, who wishes to become an aerospace engineer from IIT-Kanpur, are to get a job, convince his father to give up his work as a cobbler and help his brothers get admission in reputed schools.

However, getting into IIT comes with a price and his father Rajendra Prasad is not sure whether he would be able to pay for his son’s fees with his meagre income.

"I am ready to sell off myself to see my son become an engineer. Let us see if my dream comes true," Rajendra said.

Abhishek would work with his father as a shoeshine boy and at times would find a job as a labourer to earn some extra money. Talking about his elder son, Rajendra said, "He used to study in the night and help me in my work the whole day. He is a popular shoeshine boy but doesn’t like to do it for obvious reasons.

He often used to work as a labourer to earn some extra money for his books and stationery.

He was always a serious child who preferred to study rather than play with other kids." Having struggled to get decent education throughout his career, he wants the very best for his brothers. "We are happy that he wants to send his brothers to reputed schools. I know that we have to wait for another five years before he completes the course and gets a job. Let us see what is there in store for us," Prasad said.

His three brothers – Abhijit, Anshul and Aryan – are below 12 years of age and study in a municipal school. Their mother Sangeeta Devi repairs old clothes of poor people and earns about Rs 50 a day.

"My husband gets around Rs 100 and I earn Rs 50 in a day. It is not enough for us. But we don’t want to beg. We want to live with our heads held high. My children know how to go ahead with their pride intact. Abhishek never demanded anything from us. The table of my sewing machine would turn into his study table at night. All I did was to ensure that there was enough kerosene in the lantern," she said.

Abhishek feels he was lucky to get the guidance of Mahesh Singh Chauhan, who made him dream about IIT. "I could get through because I got a chance.

My teacher Chauhan inspired me to appear in the IIT exams. I will be the first engineer in the family.

But henceforth all my brothers and cousins would prepare for medical and engineering courses," said a determined Abhishek.

Zee News

Two policemen injured rescuing ‘man-eaters’


Updated on Sunday, May 30, 2010, 22:47 IST

Darbhanga: Two policemen were injured in a clash with mob after the men in uniform refused to hand over to them six people of a nomadic community who, according to the locals, were man-eaters.

Sub-Divisional Officer Sanjay Singh said the mob pelted stones at the Mabubi police station where the six nomadic people were kept after being rescued by the police from a section of the people of Kothia and Makhnai villages.

Two policemen were injured in the brickbatting, following which the force used batons to disperse the mob, the SDO said.

The villagers were baying for the blood of the nomads following a rumour that they were man-eaters, he said.

The Times Of India

SC notice to Haryana over Dalit attack


Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN, May 31, 2010, 01.12pm IST

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has sought a response from the Haryana government on reports that 152 Dalit families had fled Hissar district and that two of them had been killed by upper caste Jat community members.

Terming the incident as extremely serious, a bench of Justices G S Singhvi and C K Prasad asked the district Commissioner to appear in person with all relevant details at the next date of hearing.

The apex court passed the direction on a PIL filed by the some of the affected persons seeking action against the alleged culprits and protection and rehabilitation of the aggrieved families.

A 70-year-old man and his 18-year-old physically challenged daughter were killed and at least 18 houses were damaged on April 21 in an arson attack allegedly by members of the Jat community on Dalit families in Mirchpur village in Hisar, some 300 km from state capital Chandigarh.

At least 20 families of the Valmiki community in Mirchpur village had reportedly fled following an arson attack on April 21 in which 15 houses were also damaged.

Associated Press

Census question over caste identity divides India


By TIM SULLIVAN (AP) – 3 days ago

NEW DELHI — Bollywood’s biggest star has an answer ready if census workers ask about his caste: "Indian."

"My father never believed in caste, and neither do any of us," Amitabh Bachchan wrote in his obsessively followed blog.

Comments like Bachchan’s are common in modern India, which prides itself on how it has transcended some of its most rigid traditions — and those beliefs are being heard more often as the government debates whether the national census should delve into caste.

But Joseph D’Souza doesn’t believe such talk for a moment.

"There’s a lot of lip service to saying ‘I’m an Indian first,’ and ‘I don’t believe in caste,’" said D’Souza, a prominent campaigner for dalits, as India’s "untouchables" at the very bottom of the caste system are now known.

"When it comes to sharing power, to interaction, to sharing social status, low-caste Indians are very much marginalized," he said, arguing the census could provide firm data about the vast divisions.

India’s census, being held in stages over the next year or so, delves into the wealth, living conditions and other personal details of the country’s 1.2 billion people. But still undecided is one question — "What is your caste?" — that has infuriated much of India’s elite, energized caste-based political parties and left in doubt millions of government jobs and university slots.

The debate has also made very clear that caste, the Hindu custom that for millennia has divided people in a strict social hierarchy based on their family’s traditional livelihood and ethnicity, remains a deeply sensitive subject.

"The biggest issue (with the census) is the inability of India to come to terms with this really ingenious form of discrimination," D’Souza said.

Bachchan, who has dominated Bollywood for decades, proudly says his family has married across India’s vast geographic spectrum — with a Bengali, a Sindhi, a Punjabi and a Mangalorean. But D’Souza notes that none of those relatives are low caste and that the movie industry has not one dalit star.

The question’s fiercest backers include India’s most powerful caste politicians, who believe they could use the census data as fodder for votes and government funding.

Its bitterest opponents include much of the establishment. "At one stroke, it trivializes all that modern India has stood for, and condemns it to the tyranny of an insidious kind of identity politics," Pratap Bhanu Mehta, a prominent Indian commentator, wrote in the Indian Express newspaper.

The last Indian census that measured castes was in 1931, when colonial Britain still ruled.

The founders of modern India — nearly all high caste — were, at least publicly, staunch believers in a caste-blind society. While many would have been aghast if one of their children had married a dalit, they also fought hard for dalit rights.

Most felt that counting caste sizes in a census reinforced a tradition they wanted to fade.

It’s an argument still heard today.

"No one denies that there are a lot of problems in India, that there is social discrimination," said Barun Mitra, who runs a New Delhi-based research center. But "this process of identifying caste with a census is unlikely to help."

Like many critics, he also worries about the rise of the caste-based politicians.

"What purpose would it serve by drawing and redrawing the identity one more time, particularly when it is politically motivated?" he asked.

In recent decades, some of the sharpest edges of caste traditions have been softened by urbanization and economic growth. Inter-caste marriages are now fairly common, and there are powerful low-caste politicians and businesspeople.

But caste also remains a deeply felt part of Indian life. Brahmins, the highest caste, still dominate everything from politics to journalism. Caste-specific marriage advertisements are newspaper staples. Studies show low-caste Indians and dalits face daily challenges for decent schools, medical care and jobs.

"Caste is part of every social agenda, every political agenda," said Shaibal Gupta with the Asian Development Research Institute. "Even when someone is considering a neighborhood, caste is an important consideration."

But caste calculations have become far more complicated, with jobs and university slots reserved for lower castes and a new generation of politicians learning to use their lower-caste backgrounds to create massive vote banks.

Laws give specific breakdowns of those reserved positions, but since the numbers are based on the 1931 census, their accuracy is questioned. And protests have been violent as caste leaders try to have their group’s status officially lowered to be eligible for reserved jobs and school slots.

For some opponents, complexity alone makes caste an impossible census question. While there are just four main castes, there may be more than 20,000 sub-castes. Then there are the sub-sub-castes, clans and a multitude of other variations.

But for proponents like D’Souza, such arguments prove the necessity of the question. In a country where caste is so important, he asks, how can India not know the facts?

"You can’t hide it and put it under the carpet and say caste is not there," he said.


Buddhist attitude to education:

Does Buddhism contain a theory of education?


z_p-29-Does.jpgAccording to the Oxford Advanced Genie Dictionary, education means a process of teaching, training and learning, especially in schools or colleges, to improve knowledge and develop skills. Here we will examine in brief how much Buddhism has taught and done in this regard.

Buddhism gives the highest regard for wisdom (panna) and purity (visuddhi) of the mind from mental defilements, and the worst condemnation for ignorance. In Buddhism wisdom is the sharpest means to cut off all impurities. But what we are talking about here is knowledge (nana), and of course knowledge and wisdom are not the same.

One can gain knowledge by learning, but not wisdom. Buddhism places emphasis on learning as a way to dispel ignorance. People understand education as a means of teaching people to gain knowledge, do good and avoid evil and promote moral and ethical conduct.

“By oneself is evil done; by oneself is one defiled. By oneself is evil left undone; by oneself is one made pure. Purity and impurity depend on oneself, no one can purify another”. – Dhammapada.

The Buddha gained Enlightenment, without a teacher but that does not mean that he didn’t learn. Actually he had trained himself to be a master of the skills of statecraft and sciences of His day. He was endowed with the knowledge of brahmic and Samana traditions.

He had realised the unrealizable of the Samanas’ experiences and proclaimed the unheard Dharma that was lacking in Vedic scriptures. He gave a new interpretation to the ancient knowledge.

In the Brahmanical way of teaching, the student listens to his teacher – the student and the teacher developed a very close relationship; pupils were tested orally; they learnt by continuous recitation.

According to the ‘law of Manu’ which explains the functions of each caste in education, it was the Brahmins who had all the responsibilities for education. They could do all the teaching and learning. The other castes could only study certain subjects. Also it was only the Brahmins who had access to the four Vedic books.

Buddha was a skilful teacher who strongly believed in the power of transferring knowledge to convince people to change their lives. The Buddha expounded the Dhamma in many ways to suit the different types of individuals.

He used many different methods and devices to transfer His knowledge to others, such as similies, parables, analogies, analyses and so on.

Through His ability to read other peoples minds and see their post experiences, he was able to give discourses that were uniquely tailored to each listener so that he was able to understand and put his teaching into practice.

We see that some discourses are lengthy, medium-sized and also very short. Some are rich with the lofty philosophy, some contain nuanced philosophy and other simple and practical for the day to day life of the peasant.

The education from the Buddhist standpoint consists of three aspects:

1. Vijja – knowledge
2. Carania – value
3. Kosalla – activities

Vijja means spiritual knowledge and Carania means virtuous conduct. Kosalla has been described as skill that originates from the possession of knowledge and conduct. He exhorted His listeners to pay close attention to what is being taught – be willing to learn, remember it well then retain it and examine its meaning.

In Sammosa sutta of the SN it is stated: Idha Bhikkhave Bhikkhu na dhamman pariyapunanti suttam geyyam veyyakaranam getham udanam itivuttam jatakam abbhutadhammam vedallam ayam pathamo dhammo saddhammassa sammoraya antaradhanaya pavatti.

Herein if the Bhikkhus do not master the Dhamma, the discourses, power expositions. verses, inspired utterances, brief sayings, birth stories, marvelous accounts, miscellanies, this is the first cause of disappearance of the true teaching.

Buddha emphasised that the learning and mastering of the Dharma was a crucial factor to ensure the longevity of the Dharma.

One of the factors which gives rise to right view is named paratoghosa which literally means hearing the sound of the other. This is not a kind of revolution secretly transmitted by the gods.

It simply means one listens to the wise and gains some knowledge or suddenly realizes some essential truth. Another word to describe a person of great knowledge in bahussuta.

A person who is endowed with ‘much heard’ is regarded as a blessing. (Mangala Sutta). Sutadhanam is the treasure of having ‘heard much’ sutadharo is remembering a lot, and sutasanniccaya is the collecting of what is heard.

Suta is one of the five treasures (dhana) confidence (saddha), virtue (sila), learning (suta), benevolence (caga) and wisdom (panna) for lay persons and it is among the seven treasures of monks and nuns. Buddha who reminded his audiences to be cautious in accepting what is taught by others.

“Nay kalama, do not be led by revelation, or by tradition, or by hearsay. Not by the authority of secret scriptures or by mere reasoning, not by the apparent logic and not by believing in the person who spoke it”, On another occasion the Buddha pointed out the five things that should not be taken for granted. They are;

1. Saddha – faith
2. Ruci – liking (emotional inclination)
3. Anussava – oral tradition
4. Akaraparivitakka – reasoned consideration
5. Ditthi nijjhanakkhanti – reflective acceptance of view

‘These five things can turn into different ways here and now. Now something may be fully accepted out of faith, yet it may be empty, hollow and false. But something else may not be accepted but it may be factual, true and unmistaken’.

In the case of the Sangha, the community of bhikkhus and nuns, and the monasteries are a place of religious training as well as a congregation of contemplatives.

In the traditional way, the new comer has to remain with a teacher (upajjhaya) for at least five years to learn the monastic way of life as well as the scriptures and meditation methods, and so on.

The methods of learning are listening, memorising, reciting, (verbally) and investigating by oneself or by debating with friends and teachers of Dhamma. In the Buddhist approach to imparting knowledge there are four factors that we have to consider:

The teacher – the unique figure of the Buddha
The pupils – the Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, Upasakas and Upasikas
The teaching – the Dhamma and the Vinaya
Method of teaching – the intellectual liberation of Buddhism

There are three stages in the Buddhist education: Pariyatti – learning, patipatti – practising, and pativedha – realization. Thus learning is the first step on the way to Nibbana. The study of Dhamma consists of learning and practice.

Sunantha – listen
Dharetha – retain
Caratha – follow the Dhamma
In this context Buddhism emphasizes learning and practising.


Today bhikkhus and nuns are actively engaged in the educational field. Building schools, writing and distributing books, giving lectures, supporting poor students and giving Dhamma talks are the most popular ways to educate the people.

Following the footsteps of these teachers the bhikkhus and nuns wander from place to place to awaken people to the reality of life.

A typical progressive talk would move through the topics of charity (dana), morality (sila), heavenly states (saga), renunciation (nekkhamma) and finally to the Four Noble Truths that embody the liberation from all forms of suffering.

Thus Buddhist education is the way leading upwards, although it does not stress the need for skills and knowledge for material gain. It always encourages people to ‘be able’ to support oneself and one’s family, to benefit society and above all to be detached and liberated, free from greed, hatred and delusion.

These characteristics of the Buddha’s message can be explained in various ways. The teachings that are passed down to us contain much information in various forms.

The Buddha knew that his listeners had different learning styles and different needs. That is why we get the same message in different ways. The word used to describe this is aneka pariyayena Dhammam desethi.

Buddha is not a saviour. He has preached to his followers that the Dharma enables them to cross the ocean of Samsara; Kullupaman vo Bhikkave Dhammam desissami nittaranatthaya no gahanatthaya”.

The Buddha expalined that He (the Tathagatha) would only show the way; Tumhehi kiccam akkataro Tathagatha’. The striving should be one by oneself, the Tathagathas are only teachers. And the Buddha’s advice was to follow the path that leads to the extinction of suffering


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