Conference on The Scourge of Scavenging: Revisiting the Question of Sanitation/Scavenging/Scavengers

 

[Via Dr. B. Ravichandran]

The Scourge of Scavenging: Revisiting the Question of Sanitation/Scavenging/Scavengers
Date: 08-Nov-2017 to 10-Nov-2017
Event Type: National Seminar
Venue of Event: Seminar Hall, Indian Institute of Advanced Studies.
Last date for abstract: August 15th 2017

Concept Note

 India has been consistently critiqued, locally and globally, for its inability to ban the inhuman practice of manually cleaning human faeces, otherwise popularly known as manual scavenging. Different stake-holders have consistently argued towards achieving clean and safe practices in sanitation, particularly with respect to the disposal of human waste. In order to do so, governments have set up committees such as the 1949 Barve Committee and programmes such as the Central Rural Sanitation programme to the contemporary Swachh Bharat campaign. The major findings of these committees has been that the scavenging system in India is a customary practice that, along with the social stigma attached to it, is carried forward from one generation to the next. It is in this context that attempts were later made to improve the working conditions of the sweepers and to remove the social stigma related to the occupation, thereby leading to the formation of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis towards the rehabilitation of scavengers. The committees and the programmes did not attain their goal towards abolishing manual scavenging. As a result, various civil society groups began arguing against the apathy faced by sanitary workers and campaigning for better working environment through books, documentaries, legal cases. If one NGO focused on the complete ban on manual scavenging, another would focus on introducing toilets that are cost effective. Adding to the already existing problem, financial liberalisation in India has further endangered the job security that scavengers earlier had. If earlier dignity of labour was the fight of scavengers, then after liberalisation even their basic survival was brought to question. With the contemporary resurgence of Dalit movements, the complete annihilation of caste once again became an articulated demand, one that could not be achieved without eradicating manual scavenging and the insanitary conditions within which scavengers are made to work.

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Dalit studies: Human Dignity, Equality and Democracy

 

Call for Proposals

The rise of Dalit studies has provided the necessary platform for a new set of scholarly enquiries in the social sciences and humanities. The Dalit Studies International conference (2008) was an attempt to bring together academics and intellectuals for a productive conversation on new research agendas. This initiative resulted in the publication of an edited volume Dalit Studies (2016). We plan to continue to explore caste inequality, human dignity, democracy and similar concerns to further reflect on the possibilities and challenges of Dalit Studies in the proposed conference.

Dalit Studies may be thought of as a new academic practice rooted in resistance to the dominant epistemologies. It has enabled academia to engage with the grounded knowledge creation by the Dalit communities. Innovative approaches have been devised to read the colonial and missionary archives and to analyse social memories, oral narratives, and cultural practices of the Dalit communities. Such novel research initiatives have resulted in a new set of studies that foreground Dalit subjects as active agents of social change and action. As a location for the study of marginality, Dalit Studies has enabled a sustained critical attention to the anti-caste social movements, religious traditions, literary and performative cultures and the everyday lives and practices of Dalit communities. Another important aspect of Dalit studies is that it opened up the possibility of a global conversation on caste, race, and similar forms of inequality.

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Caste violence in Tiruvannamalai District, akin to Dharmapuri 2012!

 

Geeta Charusivam

Puliyarampakkam Village in Cheyyar Taluk of Tiruvannamalai district is a village with a population of around 2500 persons. It is primarily a Dalit village, with majority of the population (about 2000) belonging to a scheduled caste called Paraiyars. The caste hindus are just a quarter in number as compared to the Dalits. As per the rigid norms of our caste dominated society, the village is divided into the Cheri / Colony (where the scheduled castes live) and the Oor (where caste hindus live). The village has not witnessed any intra-village caste conflict between the Dalits and caste hindus so far.

puliyarampakkam 12

Yesterday, viz., 23.07.2017, around mid-morning, some dalit boys were playing cricket along the local lakeside. Some boys from the dominant Vanniyar caste belonging to Chellaperumpulimedu village which is about 12 kms away came there and quarrelled with the dalit boys. Two boys Tamilarasan and Manikandan were specifically targeted and beaten up by them. The motive for this attack seems to be the fact that Tamilarasan and a Vanniyar boy, both love a Vanniyar girl from Chellaperumpulimedu village. However, the girl does not seem to have reciprocated the feelings of either boy. But the attack on the Dalits boys was led by that Vanniyar lover-boy who demanded, "How dare you love our girls, you dogs? We'll kill you for this audacity!" But the quarrel ended and the dalit boys returned home.

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Personal is Intellectual

Zeeshan Husain

zeeshanAs a young student of social sciences, I heard the phrase "personal is political" from a teacher who dealt with gender issues. I could sense that it meant our personal lives are somewhat a microcosm of the political (and social) reality in which we live. We, as members of the society, practice those macro realities in our everyday interactions. In the context of the phrase that the larger reality was called 'patriarchy'. One can broadly define patriarchy as the supremacy of male over female. The supremacy is manifested in religion, caste, class, education, etc. There is one more thing that the phrase 'personal is political' has taught us. It has in some ways tried to push us to look within our own lives. It prompted us to ask ourselves- how much are we replicating those macro patriarchal structures in our micro lives. This short piece delves into this correlation between microscopic everyday practices and macroscopic social structures.

I see in various academic circles, a number of scholarly articles being written in online media, national dailies, etc. Academic 'rigour' is almost the monopoly of 'great' souls who are casteless and religion–less. We, as students of social sciences, share those articles over WhatsApp and Facebook and discuss them with our friends. In such instances, one sees a broader pattern, one that speaks of the academia of India at large. I see that many, if not most people writing such pieces are from privileged castes, class and even religion. Their words are flowery and quite radical. They seem to be quite revolutionary. But a little more careful observation leads to an almost opposite picture. I find that hidden behind these radical words are their status quoist faces. One gets astonished seeing how these thinkers can speak so eloquently and impress people of all social backgrounds. Yet, in their actions, they remain so conservative, communal and casteist, in one word Brahmanical. Their actions simply betray their words.

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Foil Vedanta: Convict the Mining Firm for Gross Pollution in Zambia

 

Statement by Foil Vedanta 28th June 2017

British Mining Firm to Deny Culpability for Gross Pollution in Zambia

  •  UK miner Vedanta Resources' will try to prevent major pollution case being tried in UK in its appeal hearing on 4th/5th July in London.
  • The hearing will be met with solidarity protests at the Royal Courts of Justice demanding justice in the eleven year case on behalf of the victims.
  • The May 2016 London judgment which allowed the case to be heard in the UK indicted Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines for financial secrecy, historic dishonesty and attempts to pervert the course of justice.

foil vedanta

The latest hearing in the case of the Chingola communities consistently polluted by Vedanta subsidiary Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) will be heard at the Court of Appeals in London on 4th or 5th July [1]. A rally organised by Foil Vedanta[2] with Pan African solidarity groups will take place outside the court in solidarity with the victims of ongoing pollution who have been fighting legal battles for justice in Zambia, and now the UK, for eleven years.

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Is GST as important as Human Rights?

 

Mangesh Dahiwale

mangesh dahiwaleGST has been in operation in France since 1950s. USA does not have the GST regime. Canada have the GST, but accommodated with the regional political system. Malaysia launched GST in 2015 and led to protests and it is settling now. The unified tax regime is a good idea and the discussions have been on for a long time. It is going to be yet another disruption in the Indian economy, which Jaitley, the Finance Minister of India claims that its structural reform in Indian economy. The current RSS/BJP Government is trying to create the atmosphere of reforms, particularly, economic reforms in India.

 In an interview, Jaitley claimed that it is difficult to see how this disruption will play out in economy, but that after a while, the GDP will grow by 2 percent. However, the analysis of the Economist team claims that it will lead to lowered GDP of India by 2 percentage. We do not know who to believe and time will be the test of this policy.

India is a vast country unlike other countries, particularly Europe, which has a different history and much smaller a population that India. Indian federalism is a different type and in India, the states are sometimes bigger than some of the countries in the world. Whatever policies we have to implement, they have to be tailor made for Indian context or else they will backfire. India already saw much bigger a disruption which yielded no gains for the economy and the citizens. Indian economy slowed down because of the draconian demonetisation.

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Ram Nath Kovind is not a Dalit, Dalit is a Spring of Political Consciousness

 

Saidalavi P.C.

saidalaviThe propaganda minister in Nazi Germany, Joseph Goebbels was so sharp in his thinking that we have come to quote his famous aphorism regarding the plausibility of a lie being conceived as a truth if proclaimed often. What is more, we see innumerable imposters of him in our country, wearing clothes stitched from to saffron to red to all possible colours. It has become difficult for us to be recognize the truth on our own. I was struck by this fact the other day when I saw everybody, including some Dalits, acknowledging the 'dalitness' of Ram Nath Kovind, the presidential nominee of NDA. We are truly into a fascist era, big time!

Look at some of the responses from across the political spectrum on Facebook:

 By making Ramnath Govind, a dalit as The President of India - BJP sends a clear message....

 So, all those who are asking whether Kovind, the NDA presidential candidate, has any stand on the all round attacks on Dalits, are presumably 'uncomfortable' that a Dalit is being made President....

 The market value of a stooge Dalit is determined by the collective labor of All Ambedkarite Dalits against Hindutva....

Many such responses could be spotted if you just scrolled down your social media pages. The general trend is that the left, liberals are asking the oft-repeated question, 'what about Ram Nath Kovind? And many 'Dalits' are responding that Kovind is being used to forestall the dalit uprisings gathering steam in every part of the country. It is true! But are we forgetting the question 'who is a Dalit?'

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