The ugly truth

 

Kancha Ilaiah

kancha ilaiah'You labelled the SC/ST/OBCs as corrupt to equalise them with upper castes who are not merely corrupt but also exploit '

Dear Ashis Nandy,

On the question of corruption — how to deploy that concept, and which section of the Indian society (not of the state) deserves to be deployed — it seems you displayed a deep diabolism at the Jaipur Literature Festival. With your statement the debate on corruption shifted from individuals to communities/castes. This is in a way good.

The recent countrywide debate on corruption was confined to individuals, most of them coming from the higher echelons of the Indian civil society and state. Now you have, however, labelled the OBCs, SCs and STs as communities that are most corrupt without saying anything about the corruption of the upper castes, except a cursory reference to upper-caste nepotism. In any case, none of the upper-caste intellectuals in the realm of social science have accepted, so far, that the upper castes are corrupt as a community. Your presumption on that count is also wrong. In fact, there is no debate on castes and communities in relation to corruption.

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Delhi Gang Rape Case: Some Uncomfortable Questions

 

Anand Teltumbde

The brutal attack and gang rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy intern in Delhi on 16 December 2012 provoked countrywide angry reactions and foregrounded the issue of increasing incidents of sexual assaults on women in general and rapes in particular. It compelled the otherwise apathetic administration to take several exceptional measures such as flying the woman to a super-specialty hospital in Singapore and fast-tracking the trial of the perpetrators. Unfortunately the victim could not be saved. Now that she is gone and the issue has faded from the television screens one can think dispassionately and raise some questions that remained suppressed in the heat of agitation. For instance, dalits who suffer alone when their daughters are raped and murdered with impunity are annoyed by this sudden burst of concern for rape as though it was some strange occurrence in the country. They poured out their anger in their blogs and e-mail groups asking why all those candle bearers did not shed a single tear over the rape and murder of Surekha and Priyanka Bhotmange that was committed in a festive mode by Khairlanji villagers. What indeed is the character of these television-induced agitations? Do they really serve the purpose of diminishing social evils or trivialise them? What, for instance, did this agitation do for the cause of women's honour?

Why Only Nirbhaya?

Rapes are a part of our environment. Only a small fraction of their actual incidence comes to light because of the social stigma associated with them; mostly, such occurrences are deliberately suppressed by the victims and their families. To a varying degree, this is a world phenomenon. For instance, the American Medical Association (1995) considers sexual violence and rape, in particular, as the most under-reported crime. As such, only a few of these incidents get into police records and get counted. And still, on the basis of this count by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), rapes currently take place in India at the rate of one every 22 minutes. The total number of rape cases reported in 2011 was 24,206. From 2,487 in 1971, when the NCRB started to record cases of rape, this spells a rise of 873%! One may be reasonably sceptical about this distant benchmark as there have been signifi cant changes in the country, particularly in people's attitudes, values, beliefs and behaviour as a result of the free market reforms instituted in 1991. But even if one considers the recent period, say 1991 onwards, the incidence of rape is seen rising at an accelerated pace. From 10,410 cases of rape in 1991, the figure rose to 24,206 in 2011, an increase of over 230%. Delhi, where this heinous rape took place, has been the rape capital of India. The corresponding figures for Delhi were 214 and 572, recording a 267% rise over two decades. Never before did any of these incidents evoke even the slightest of public reaction. The question arises, why did only this incident create such a public uproar?

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Casting corruption

 

Mallepalli Lakshmaiah

mallepalli lakshmaiahThere is nothing new in the social scientist, Ashis Nandy's formulation that "most of the corrupt" people in India "come from the OBCs (Other Backward Classes) and the Scheduled Castes (SC), and now increasingly Scheduled Tribes (ST)".

Those defending Nandy as an original thinker and so-called public intellectual may be reminded of a similar statement made by another learned professor, while delivering a guest lecture at the Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of Administration, Mussoorie in 1990, during the height of the anti-Mandal Commission agitation.

At that time, this Delhi University professor told the 300-odd probationers that "all SC and ST officers who got in through reservation in the civil services were corrupt". Moreover, "since the reserved category officers came from poor economic backgrounds, they couldn't resist the temptation of money".

Inglorious traditions

As for Nandy, what can one say about somebody who, in the past, even projected 'Sati' as an act of courage reaffirming efflorescent Indian traditions against the onslaught of modernity and a market-oriented political economy?

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Who’s here for the tribals?

 

Babulal Marandi

In recent times, the issue of coal block allocation has seen unprecedented discussions in the media, Parliament and legislative assemblies of various coal-bearing states. But amidst the heated political discussions, what has clearly been missed, is a serious effort or thinking in setting things right. While CAG's revelation vis-a-vis allocation of coal blocks has given enough ammunition to various political parties to sling mud at each other, it's the poor tribals who continue to lose out as ever before.

In the wake of recent economic developments, there is no denying the fact that natural resources like coal, iron ore, etc, need to be put to prudent use. Unfortunately, policymakers at various levels have inevitably failed to gauge the hopes and aspirations of the poor and marginalised tribals of the country.

In the last eight years itself, 138 coal blocks have been given away to the private sector almost free of cost in the name of captive usage. Often, a picture is painted that tribals are anti-development, but if any sane person would bother to analyse the conditions under which these coal blocks have been allocated, he would realise the apathy with which the poor tribals have been treated.

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To empower dalits, do away with India's antiquated retail trading system

 

Chandra Bhan Prasad & Milind Kamble

A couple of months ago, the UPA government cleared Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in retail. It is a politically risky step. But for once, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh showed both spine and spunk biting the bullet. Since then, both Left parties and the BJP have expressed serious reservations over the decision. The general view is that it will affect the lakhs of small, indigenous kirana stores spread across the country. Interestingly, nobody has spoken about the FDI effect on the fledgling class of dalit entrepreneurs in India.

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Dharmapuri 2012: Worse than Kilvenmani

 

Anand Teltumbde

My friend Prof C Lakshmanan called me today from the ground zero in Dharmapuri narrating in his choked voice the horrific state of things in three villages - Natham, Anna Nagar and Kondampatti, where nearly 500 houses of Dalits were looted and burnt by the Vanniyar (an OBC caste) mob on 7 November. Lakshmanan was part of a fact finding team that had just reached the site of devastation. I had known of it from a sms I received from an activist on 8 November and subsequently from the scanty reports from newspapers. And still I felt shaken to the bones.

The immediate cause for the caste violence was the love marriage between a Parayar boy, Ilavarasan, 23 and a Vanniyar girl, Divya, 20 that took place a month ago. The girl's family approached the police, and the police counseled both parties that the marriage was valid. Meanwhile the Vanniyars from 30 villages had a meeting and discussed the matter. They held a 'kangaroo' court at Nayakkankottai village the previous week and directed the Dalit family to return the woman on Wednesday but Divya refused to obey and made it clear that she would live with Ilavarasan. Dharmapuri SP Asra Garg knew about this all and said that the police were searching for those who took part in it. On 6 November 2012, the girl's father G Nagarajan (48) suddenly died at his residence in Sellankottai, not far from the Natham Dalit colony. The Vanniyars claimed that he died because he could not digest that his daughter married a Parayar guy. But Dalits felt that he was murdered by Vanniyars to have an alibi for action against them. The memory of the recent shock at the statement of Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) MLA J Guru, who heads the Vanniyar Sangam, the first avatar of the PMK, at a community meeting forbidding the inter-caste marriages, had not yet faded. This public meeting inspired the OBCs across Tamil Nadu to decide against the OBC girls marring Dalit boys, whatever the consequences. Also, the Kongu Vellala Goundergal Peravai, which claims to represent the community, issued advertisements in newspapers calling a meeting of community members to oppose inter-caste marriages and launched a campaign against it. All this is well known to the state. Therefore the incident should be seen in the context of such a casteist build up in the recent past.

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