Liberal Democracy and Kymlicka’s Conception of Minority Rights: Towards a Perspective of Dalit Rights

 

Dr. P. Kesava Kumar

Abstract

The recognition of minority rights is an issue for debate in recent times. It has implication for a theory of liberal democracy. Especially, the communitarian critique of liberalism has come in strong defense of community against individualism. Will Kymlicka proposes minority rights in the multicultural context of the west by internalizing the wisdom of liberal and communitarian debate. He argues for cultural rights of minorities on its own merit within the liberal framework. Western nations, like India, live with pluralism and have an established tradition of recognizing the autonomy of individual as well as community. Ambedkar offers a different kind of framework for minority rights. He views dalit rights as minority rights in a hindu majoritarian society. He defends the minority rights within the framework of liberal democracy based on disadvantage, oppression and injustice experienced by dalits in the hindu social order. He mediates both liberalism and communitarianism. His conception of minority rights goes beyond western liberalism and offers one kind of liberal and democratic multiculturalism evolved from Indian experience.

Introduction

Today the issue of minority rights is a debating point for many nation-states. It often throws challenges to liberal democratic governments. On one hand communitarian thinkers are critical about liberal theory for its emphasis on individualism. In the wake of identity politics, demands for rights of specific social group/community have not only got currency but have its moral legitimacy on different grounds. Especially the rights of recognition for ethnic, cultural, social, linguistic, religious minorities located in a nation state require a different kind of political and philosophical articulation against the existing political practices and theories. The liberal theory is one such grand political theory based on the principles of individualism, egalitarianism and universalism, has been adopted by the nation states of the world in one form or other. Individualism and individual rights are often viewed as the defining characteristic of liberalism. The liberalism has often been criticized for being excessively individualistic and for not recognizing group rights. The liberal theory is under attack from different fronts such as communitarians, Marxists, feminists and post modernists on different grounds. The autonomy and freedom/rights of the individual have taken a new turn in the context of demands for collective rights. Especially, the struggles of new social movements and claims of ethnic groups, immigrant groups, indigenous and aboriginal groups both in the West and Postcolonial nations have compelled them to reformulate the existing principles of governance.

Read more...

Sunita Babu's Suicide: Driven to Death by Police Harassment

 

'Suicide of Sunita Babu – Due to Police Harassment'
A fact-finding report on a Dalit woman's suicide in Kerala by Sthreekoottayma (A women's collective)

The suicide of Sunita Babu, a Dalit woman, in Eroor, Thrippunithara of Ernakulum District appeared and was discussed in the media, but not with the seriousness that it deserved. The media portrayed it as a case of suicide driven by the weight of having divulged to the police the whereabouts of her criminal husband. The society saw nothing amiss in this incident. However, the fact of the matter is that Sunita took her own life, having been driven to it by two weeks of harassment by the police hunting for the accused Babu. For two weeks, the police frequented the house of the accused in uniform and civilian clothes, and constantly harassed the women and the children in the guise of trying to get information about the absconding accused, resulting in a tragic end for Sunita who was neither involved in, nor was a witness to the incident. Below is an account of facts of this incident that has not come to light.

Sunita Babu

April 30, 2013

Chandran is a daily-wage employee working in Vimal Bazaar, owned by T.V. Ramachandran near Mathoor gate in Eroor, Thrippunithura. On the said day, he borrowed a bicycle (that belonged to Ramachandran's uncle) from this shop, to go home for his breakfast. While he was having food at home, Chandran's nephews took the bicycle to visit the temple. While the children were inside the temple, the bicycle was left outside, where it was spotted by its owner, Ramachandran's uncle who was walking along the road. He took the bicycle. When the children came out of the temple, they didn't see the cycle and went around searching for it. When they were certain that they had lost it, they informed Chandran, their uncle and all of them together started searching for it. Having lost hope of finding it, they went to Ramachandran's shop, where they saw the cycle in front of the shop. When the children tried to get inside the shop to ask what had happened, Ramachandran said 'Get out, pulayadimakkale' (this is considered an expletive in Kerala and is a casteist abuse .). Ramachandran abused the children calling caste names.

Read more...

A sure way to produce Dalit dropouts

 

Udit Raj & Hany Babu

The article in The Hindu by Mr. Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resource Development, on the four-year undergraduate programme (FYUP) in the University of Delhi (Op-Ed, "Drop the rhetoric, start the debate," June 1, 2013) raises certain important issues.

du multiple exit points

The multiple exit points could become traps for students who are less privileged. Photo: Meeta Ahlawat

Mr. Tharoor, like most of the mainstream media in India, seems to be unaware of the arguments that are currently being made in opposition to the FYUP. The issue is no more confined to course structure or syllabi. Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe and Other Backward Class (SC/ST/OBC) groups have advocated caution on the potential of the new programme to make the reservation policy mandated by the Constitution nugatory, as a large number of students from SC/ST/OBC groups may not be able to complete four years of education. The multiple exit points may become death traps for these students. In spite of the claims made by the university that every student can do a four-year honours degree in the new scheme, the percentage of reserved category students will dwindle in the third and fourth years. They will exit with unequal degrees, the equalising force of education will be lost, and the social stratification will be further hardened.

Read more...

Brief Report Of The Killing of Adivasis by CRPF at Edesmeta, Chattisgarh

 

Brief Report Of The Killing of Adivasi Civilians by CRPF at Edesmeta in Bijapur district, Chattisgarh, on May 17, 2013

[Via Karthik Navayan]

Following media reports that eight adivasis and a CRPF constable had died in an alleged encounter on the night of May 17, 2013 at Edesmeta village in Bijapur district of Chattisgarh, a team of the Human Rights Forum (HRF) from Andhra Pradesh visited the area on May 25, 26 to elicit facts. The team spoke with residents of Edesmeta as well as police officers at Gangulur. There are 67 households in Edesmeta located in six paras (hamlets). The village is in Burgil panchayat of Bijapur block and falls in the jurisdiction of Gangalur police station.

The following is a brief report of the fact-finding team. A more detailed report will be put out in due course:

It is the HRF's view that contrary to the police version of an encounter with Maoists, there was no exchange of fire at Edesmeta on the night of May 17. Eight adivasis, including four minors, all of them male, and the CRPF constable died as a result of indiscriminate and unilateral firing by the CRPF. None of the deceased eight adivasis are Maoists as the police initially claimed. The eight did not die because the Maoists used them as human shields as an improvised police version put out a day later stated. They were killed in gunfire unleashed by a specialized anti-naxalite unit of the CRPF. There was no provocation whatsoever for the firing. Four more adivasis including a minor were injured. This callous brutality is chillingly similar to the slaughter of 17 adivasi civilians (including six minors) at Sarkeguda, also in Bijapur district, on the night of June 28, 2012.

Read more...

Caste-based discrimination a major structural factor underlying poverty: UN

 

media-statement

Continued plight of the 'untouchables'

UN experts call for strengthened protection of more than 260 million victims of caste-based discrimination

GENEVA (24 May 2013) – They occupy the lowest levels of strict, hierarchical caste systems founded on notions of purity, pollution and inequality. They face marginalization, social and economic exclusion, segregation in housing, limited access to basic services including water and sanitation and employment, enforcement of certain types of menial jobs, and working conditions similar to slavery.

They are the Dalits of South Asia, who constitute the majority of victims of entrenched caste-based discrimination systems which affect some 260 million stigmatized people worldwide, people considered 'untouchable'.

"Caste-based discrimination remains widespread and deeply rooted, its victims face structural discrimination, marginalization and systematic exclusion, and the level of impunity is very high," a group of United Nations human rights experts warned today, while urging world Governments to strengthen protection of the hundreds of millions of people across the globe who suffer from discrimination based on work and descent.

Read more...

Dalit women on intersections of violence and discrimination at the Human Rights Council

Dalit women on intersections of violence and discrimination at HRC 23 in the UN

~

Side event at the 23rd session of the UN Human Rights Council
 

"Dalit Women: Working Together Towards The Elimination Of
Multiple And Intersecting Forms Of Discrimination And Violence
Based On Gender And Caste"

On 4 June 2013, 14:30-16:30, Room VIII, 3rd floor

This event offers a unique opportunity to explore the cross-cutting and intersecting nature and forms of gender and castebased
discrimination and to discuss what the international community can do to effectively address this entrenched problem.

Read more...

Cops watch as Dalits are attacked by organized mob in Keesara, near Hyderabad

 

Sub-Inspector of Keesara police station, Mr Venkat, was an eye witness to the brutal assault on Dalits in Rampally Dayara: Human Rights Forum

~

To

The District Collector and Magistrate

Ranga Reddy district, Hyderabad

Dear Madam

Sub: Attack on dalits (Madigas) of Rampally Dayara JNNURM Colony- assistance to victims of attack-regarding.

You are aware that more than 10 dalits of JNNURM Colony of Rampally Dayara in Keesara mandal of Ranga Reddy district were injured in an attack on them by persons belonging to non-dalit castes of Ramapally Dayara village on May 1 and 2, 2013.

In the JNNURM Colony, Ms. Balamma of Rampally Dayara runs a belt shop which is located very close to the houses of the dalits. Inebriated customers have been creating nuisance for the past one year to which the family of Mr. Indrala Kalyan,a dalit resident of the colony belonging to the Madiga caste, have been objecting. The dalits had even a lodged a complaint in the matter at the local Kesara police station exactly a year ago on 4 May 2012. The owners of the shops have the support of Mr. Kandadi Anji Reddy and Mr Kandadi Srinivas Reddy of Rampally Dayara, the main accused in the attack of last week. While Mr. Angi Reddy is the mandal president of TDP, Mr Srinivas Reddy is the former upa-sarpanch.

Read more...

Other Related Articles

Interview with Prof Khalid Anis Ansari on the Pasmanda Movement
Monday, 27 February 2017
  Round Table India In this episode of the Ambedkar Age series, Round Table India talks to Prof. Khalid Anis Ansari, Director, Dr. Ambedkar Centre for Exclusion Studies & Transformative... Read More...
Critical Analysis of Indian Historians' Writings on Buddhism - Part 2
Sunday, 26 February 2017
  Ratnesh Katulkar Continued from here. It was during the Mauryan period, particularly at the time of Asoka, that India reached its zenith. There was an advanced stage of development in the... Read More...
हिन्दू भगवानो को परेशान मत कीजिये, रविदास बुद्ध कबीर से मार्गदर्शन लीजिये
Friday, 24 February 2017
  Sanjay Jothe परम संत रविदास का नाम ही एक अमृत की बूँद के जैसा है. जैसे भेदभाव,... Read More...
Spinning Wheel: From Gandhi to Modi
Wednesday, 22 February 2017
  Naveen (Nijam) Gara Prime Minister Narendra Modi's picture replacing that of M K Gandhi at the charkha in an official annual calendar has kicked up a storm. Modi baiters have pounced upon this... Read More...
On the Anxieties surrounding Dalit Muslim Unity
Friday, 17 February 2017
  Ambedkar Reading Group Delhi University  Recently we saw the coming together of Dalits and Muslims at the ground level, against a common enemy - the Hindu, Brahminical State and Culture -... Read More...

Recent Popular Articles

Dr. Ambedkar's Invaluable Advice on the Sikh Right to Self-rule
Thursday, 22 September 2016
  Sardar Ajmer Singh This article is an excerpt from S. Ajmer Singh's book "Biswi Sadi Ki Sikh Rajneeti: Ek Ghulami Se Dusri Ghulami Tak" (The Sikh Politics of the 20th Century: From One Slavery... Read More...
जाति पाति: आदर्श और हक़ीकत (पंजाब के सन्दर्भ में)
Wednesday, 25 January 2017
  Sardar Ajmer Singh (सरदार अजमेर सिंह) (यह आलेख आज़ाद भारत के पंजाब प्रांत में दलित/पछड़ा... Read More...

Recent Articles in Hindi

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

पेरियार से हम क्या सीखें?

  संजय जोठे  इस देश में भेदभाव और शोषण से भरी परम्पराओं का विरोध करने वाले अनेक विचारक और क्रांतिकारी हुए हैं जिनके बारे में हमें बार-बार पढ़ना और समझना चाहिए. दुर्भाग्य से इस देश के शोषक वर्गों के षड्यंत्र के कारण इन क्रांतिकारियों का जीवन परिचय और समग्र कर्तृत्व छुपाकर रखा जाता है. हमारी अनेकों पीढियां इसी षड्यंत्र में जीती आयीं हैं. किसी देश के उद्भट विचारकों और क्रान्तिकारियों को इस...

Read more

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

कृष्ण: भारतीय मर्द का एक आम चेहरा...!

(कृष्ण की लोक लुभावन छवि का पुनर्पाठ!)मानुषी आखिर ये मिथकीय कहानियां किस तरह की परवरिश और शिक्षा देती हैं, जहां पुरुषों को सारे अधिकार हैं, चाहे वह स्त्री को अपमानित करे या दंडित, उसे स्त्री पलट कर कुछ नहीं कहती। फिर आज हम रोना रोते हैं कि हमारे बच्चे इतने हिंसक और कुंठित क्यों हो रहे हैं। सारा दोष हम इंटरनेट और टेलीविजन को देकर मुक्त होना चाहते हैं। जबकि स्त्री...

Read more

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

राष्ट्रवाद और देशभक्ति

संजय जोठे धर्म जो काम शास्त्र लिखकर करता है वही काम राष्ट्र अब फ़िल्में और विडिओ गेम्स बनाकर बनाकर करते हैं. इसी के साथ सुविधाभोगी पीढ़ी को मौत से बचाने के लिए टेक्नालाजी पर भयानक खर्च भी करना पड़ता है ताकि दूर बैठकर ही देशों का सफाया किया जा सके, और यही असल में उस तथाकथित “स्पेस रिसर्च” और “अक्षय ऊर्जा की खोज” की मूल प्रेरणा है, यूं तो सबको...

Read more