Dalits Media Watch – News Updates 23.07.11

Dalits Media Watch

News Updates 23.07.11

Orissa Dalit MLA served food separately at official meeting – The Times Of India


Youth rapes dalit, lands in cops net – The Times Of India


Suspended ‘Dalit-killer’ cops escape – The Times Of India


Dalit youth found dead Kin cry foul, claim he was poisoned – The Tribune


‘How can one buy 2,400-calorie food for Rs 11?’

SC slams Planning Commission, says poverty norms illogical – The Tribune


Decks cleared for Chhattisgarh SPO’s new avatar – The Pioneer


This isn’t finishing school – Tehelka


The Times Of India

Orissa Dalit MLA served food separately at official meeting


PTI | Jul 23, 2011, 05.51am IST

BHUBANESWAR: Alleging that he was denied food along with others at an official meeting due to "caste discrimination", the ruling BJD MLA Kashinath Mallik today sought intervention of Orissa assembly speaker.

Mallik, who represented Daspall in the assembly, met the speaker Pradip Kumar Amat and drew his attention towards the alleged discrimination.

"While three other MLAs of Nayagarh district and Kandhamal MP were served food at a room with dignity, I was given food in a leaf plate outside," Mallik said in a written complaint to the speaker.

The alleged incident took place when Mallik was attending a meeting convened by the project director of District Rural Development Agency (DRDA) on July 20. Besides three MLAs and one MP, the district collector and PD, DRDA attended the meeting.

"I feel humiliated and do not understand why such thing happens to me alone," Mallik told PTI adding that the district authorities meted such behaviour to him as he belonged to scheduled caste.

Mallik had earlier lodged a complaint with police against Kandhamal MP Rudra Madhav Ray accusing him of publicly humiliating him by taking name of his caste.

"The allegation made by the MLA is untrue. We had invited him to dine with others. But he did not come to the room. Above all the PD, DRDA has said "sorry" to him if he was hurt," Nayagarh district collector Aravind Agarwal said over phone.

The Times Of India

Youth rapes dalit, lands in cops net


Bipin Chand Agarwal, TNN | Jul 23, 2011, 06.50am IST

SHRAVASTI: A dalit woman was allegedly raped by a youth of the same village, when she was returning home.

Acting on the victim’s complaint, police have registered the case and arrested the accused and have sent the woman for medical examination.

Sunita Devi(21), a resident of Dargah police station went to Chichri Bazar to get herself photographed. When she was returning, the accused Rajkumar of the same village dragged her near a canal and outraged her modesty. The victim reached her house and narrated the incident to her husband. The husband Ramdev took her to Sonwa police station.

The police have registered the case of rape against Rajkumar under SC/ST act and sent the victim to community health centre Bhinga for medical examination. The accused Rajkumar has been arrested, police said.

The Times Of India

Suspended ‘Dalit-killer’ cops escape


TNN | Jul 23, 2011, 04.38am IST

JAIPUR: In a case where men in khakhi showed the way to goons, four policemen, including a SHO, who had been put under protective custody after a Dalit youth died while being interrogated by them at Guda Engla police station of Pali district recently, have fled.

The district police’s "best team" of officials is after them since they were reported missing from police lines on July 14, but the accused policemen have managed to remain elusive.

The four policemen were among the six who had been suspended and put under protective custody at police lines after they allegedly detained one Rahul Kumar (20). Rahul died allegedly in police custody.

"Due to the public anger and murder case lodged against the six policemen, we had ordered an enquiry into the incident. If the charge is proved, we would have arrested them. To keep them under watch, they had been placed under protective custody," SP, Pali, Ajay Pal said.

He added the four of them are missing since the day after they were detained on July 13.

Chief minister Ashok Gehlot had ordered an administrative inquiry as well as a magisterial inquiry into the incident. He also ordered immediate suspension of SHO Bharat Dewasi and five other policemen. A compensation of Rs 7 lakh, an LIG category house for the family and a government job to one of the family members of the deceased have also been announced.

Hundreds of people gathered at the district collectorate and demanded action against the staff of the Gudha Engla police station and demanded compensation for the family.

"We have put together our best team of police officials to trace the four men. We hope to nab them soon," the officer said.

A senior officer has been suspended due to the negligence. "The responsibility of keeping watch on the six policemen was on the DySP Budhadev. He has been suspended for negligence," the officer added.

It is believed the district police tried its best to cover up the report of the policemen’s escape, but as it came out on Friday, angering local people.

The Tribune

Dalit youth found dead Kin cry foul, claim he was poisoned


Tribune News Service

Jind, July 22

The death of another Dalit youth under mysterious circumstances has sent the police into a tizzy. This is the third such death in the district in the past month. Bijender, alias Binder, a resident of Jajwan village, died at the Civil Hospital here last night.

While the deceased’s wife alleged that her husband had been poisoned to death, the police had sent the victim’s viscera to the Forensic Science Laboratory, Karnal.

The police has booked Rohtash, a resident of the village, in a case of murder. It is claimed Rohtash had forcibly taken the victim with him last evening.

Sudesh, wife of Binder, told the police her husband was later found dead in a nearby street. She claimed he was poisoned to death under a conspiracy.

As a large number of residents and representatives of a Dalit organisation reached the Civil Hospital soon after the victim’s death, the district police posted a large number of cops there as a precautionary measure.

The police is still to solve two cases of similar nature that took place at Amarwalikhera and Jamni villages recently.

The Tribune

‘How can one buy 2,400-calorie food for Rs 11?’

SC slams Planning Commission, says poverty norms illogical


R Sedhuraman, Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, July 22

The Supreme Court today grilled the Planning Commission and the government on the yardsticks for identifying people living below the poverty line (BPL), observing that the methods were beyond its comprehension. A Bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Deepak Verma pointed out that according to one norm, any person earning more than Rs 11 a day in the rural areas and Rs 17 in cities would not come under the BPL category and would rather be treated as above poverty line (APL).

Under another yardstick, the government treated all those eating food containing less than 2,400 calories of energy as the BPL category, the court noted. Given the galloping inflation and the consequent erosion in the purchasing power of people, how could anyone buy food containing 2,400 calories for Rs 11 or Rs 17, the Bench wanted to know.

“It is for you to explain it properly,” the Bench told Additional Solicitor-General Mohan Parasaran and the Planning Commission counsel and suggested the commission to file a fresh affidavit making the clarification.

At an earlier hearing, the court had questioned the logic of keeping the BPL norm at Rs 11-17. But the commission filed an affidavit sticking to the norm, prompting the Bench to point out the inconsistencies between the monetary and calorie norms.

The government stand on helping pregnant mothers also came under the scanner during the arguments on the functioning of the public distribution system. Under the present policy, women are entitled to pregnancy assistance if they are of marriageable age and are expecting only their first or second child.

Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the PIL petitioner (PUCL), wanted to know as to how the government could deny the unborn children of their right to nutrition. The government was also discriminating children born at home against those born in hospitals in the matter of cash assistance, he said. The arguments would continue on August 18.

The Pioneer

Decks cleared for Chhattisgarh SPO’s new avatar


July 23, 2011 12:51:13 AM

Shivanand Shukla | Raipur

In a move aimed at paving the way for recruitment of special police officers (SPOs) in the regular police force, the State Government has taken a series of decisions, including relaxing the educational qualifications and physical measurements for the appointment as constables.

The State Cabinet on Friday approved the proposal seeking to reduce the educational qualifications for recruitment of constables — 10th standard for general and 8th for the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (SC\ST) categories — have now been reduced to fifth standard for all categories. Besides, the Cabinet also approved the proposal to reduce the height requirement of 168 cms for the general category and 153 cms for the SC/ST to 163 cms and 150 cms respectively.

More importantly, it has also been decided to fill up the vacancies in the Scheduled areas as per the constitutional provisions by local people. Now the vacancies of class three and fourth level, in the districts falling under the Scheduled category of Bastar and Sarguja commissionary, will be filled up by local people.

After the amendment in the existing appointment rule by the Cabinet, the proposal will be sent to the Governor for his assent.

Talking to newspersons, Chief Minister Raman Singh said that 80 per cent of the SPOs may be adjusted in the fresh recruitment of police constables. And if some SPOs are still left out, efforts will be made to help them gain the requisite educational qualifications.

The Government’s move comes in backdrop of the recent Supreme Court order asking the State to disarm the SPOs. The State has more than 5,000 SPOs who were engaged by the Government to guard the Salwa Judum camps, provide intelligence inputs about Maoists and guide security forces on terrains and topography in the Maoist-dominated areas.

Sources said that at present there were about 6,000 vacancies for constable posts and in the Bastar region alone about 1,800 posts of constable in the district armed police and other wings were lying vacant. The eligible SPOs in the fresh recruitment may be given preference.


This isn’t finishing school


IIT Delhi’s Self Enrichment Programme was derided as being an ‘etiquette class’. Turns out the course isn’t all that bad, says Yamini Deenadayalan

WHAT I couldn’t learn in 18 years, I learned in seven days,” said Mikhil Raj, reading out frantically from behind the podium. Raj is one of the newest students at IIT Delhi. He’d arrived a week early to attend a Self Enrichment Programme. This is the same programme that earned the institution a fair share of shock when reports got out a month ago that the IIT was organising ‘etiquette’ classes for SC/ST students. IIT Delhi found it impossible to convince anyone that this was not a patronising exercise guaranteed to deepen the alienation that SC/ST students often feel. But here we are at the valedictory function of the course. And here is Raj,among a group of 109 students who took the course and lived to tell the tale.

If precedent is anything to go by, IIT Delhi is on to a reasonably good thing. The programme has been organised by CREST, a Kerala-based organisation that over the past nine years has established an excellent reputation for its five-month Certificate Course for Professional Development (CCPD), open to Dalit and Adivasi graduates. At first, the course was only for students in Kerala but now CREST offers programmes at IIT Bombay and National Institute of Technology, Suratkal. It offers communication, managerial, IT skills, personality development and entrepreneurship.

After getting flak from the media for treating SC/ST students in ways that “smacked of apartheid”, IIT Delhi said the course was open to all and chose 109 students based on their family income. (Santanu Chaudhury, the dean of undergraduate studies at IIT Delhi, said that the word “etiquette” was never used and that it was motivated reporting by the media.) Of the 109, 72 were SC/ST students. The others were from the OBC and general category.

THE VALEDICTORY function is like any school event you have ever attended. Overly optimistic and self-congratulatory depending on whether it was a student or a professor speaking. One professor: You have all the freedom at the IIT, and now you have the selfconfidence needed to take on the four years ahead. It may have been true with a fullfledged course but with a one-week programme this seems like wishful thinking.

The function continues. As formal and rehearsed as any school event, it somehow manages to be not boring. The IITs have recently been criticised for their inability to integrate the reserved category students and give them sufficient remedial help. They offer an English language course in the first semester for students from non-English medium schools but the course largely focusses on grammar instead of emphasising on English skills for the study of science.

After the function, most of the students, including Raj, are cheerful. They agree that the theatre workshops, communication skills, and English for academic writing had a profound effect on their confidence. Ashok Kumar Meena, 17, left Dausa, Rajasthan, for the first time in his life to join the B Tech Programme in Electrical Engineering at IIT. His father is a schoolteacher and his mother a housewife. “When I arrived, I saw the standard of the people here and freaked out. I couldn’t even say my name in front of them and felt homesick. But now I feel so much prem for my team members,” says Ashok, who studied in a Hindi medium school. At the function, he played a clerk at a government office perpetually on the phone with his girlfriend. He brought the house down with laughter. Ashok is the best example of the transformative magic of theatre-based education.

When a student made a grammatical mistake in his speech, the audience (200-odd students and teachers) started giggling

Avinash Pillai, the National School of Drama-trained theatre instructor, says that it might take students like Meena 10-15 years to be fluent in English. “What is important is to dispel this colonial hangover, the idea that the study of science is a western thing. Pride in your mother tongue is a huge source of confidence,” says Pillai. The theatre performances, many of them in Hindi, did reveal self-confidence and talent. A group of boys who played touts to a foreign couple or the corrupt government official flirting on the phone with his girlfriend, were clearly enjoying themselves on stage. So when dean Santanu Chaudhury says students who took this course last year passed in 50 percent more subjects than SC/ST students who did not and were also more involved in campus activity, you can’t be too sceptical.

SHALINI MATTA, 19, is from Visakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh. On stage, she had played an obsessive Rajinikanth fan, milking the laughs from the audience with her pujas for the superstar. Matta talks about a session on personal space that made an impression on her. The nature of the session also indicates how broadly CREST defines its mandate. In the game, she imagined standing in a lift with her teacher. At each imaginary floor, a few boys walked in. “I am a girl. As more boys entered the ‘lift’, my expression changed. They, in turn, learnt to be aware of this and stepped back. Sometimes we cross boundaries of personal space even though we are sub-consciously aware of them. This course clearly defined these things for us,” says Matta.

Eighteen-year-olds should be allowed such world-conquering optimism but IIT Delhi could be a little less starry-eyed. We are, remember, still in an auditorium of teenagers from vastly different backgrounds. When one of the students made a grammatical mistake in his speech, the audience (200 odd students and teachers) started giggling. The nuances of cool are already well defined into pockets of accent, attire and academic success. To isolate a group of ‘disadvantaged students’ and train them in life skills over a period of seven days and deem them ready to take on four years of rigorous academics at the IIT is at best a cosmetic exercise.

Damodaran Nampoothiri, director of the CREST course, says it is easier to work with undergraduate students than the post-graduates “because they are more malleable to changes in persona” but agrees that longer sessions would be more meaningful.

IIT Delhi is considering ways in which these modules can be incorporated in the curriculum over the years. “This is only a starting point,” says the dean. Nirbhay Gupta, an OBC engineering student from Bareilly, UP, starts on a mildly superior note about the course. “The rural students are not as forthcoming as us.” But he continues, “While this week was a great experience, we’d like a CREST course every semester. Otherwise, we are alone for the next four years.” Everyone we spoke to, like Gupta, spoke of a great sense of bonding with other students in the course. Which leaves us with a twist on the old quandary. Students in the reserved categories do not appreciate being outed to the rest of the institution. But here is an example of how the outing can be powerful.

One can only imagine how transformative it would be if all 845 undergraduate students spent two hours a week doing theatre and communication exercises. And if the courses were part of an empowering environment. As Dalit activist Anoop Kumar points out, orientation programmes should include the ‘advantaged students’, reservation and caste should be spoken about openly.

The entire function passed without much talk of caste. This is like having a sex education class without talking about sex. Unless, of course, “humble backgrounds” is a euphemism for the forbidden C word.

Yamini Deendayalan is a Features Correspondent with Tehelka.

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