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Why and How the Government Fails to Remove Caste-Based Manual Scavenging in India!


Ajay Rahulwad

ajay rahulwadIntroduction

Manual scavenging is a caste-ridden occupation done by manual scavengers, workers who clean human excreta manually, meaning, with hands. If one would want to understand why these workers have to do this job, one has to look at its genesis in the caste-based occupational stratification in India. It is said that, “All Dalits are not manual scavengers, but almost all manual scavengers are Dalit.” This indicates that the profession is restricted to only Dalits, and not assigned to any other group.

Outside the 'Chaturvarna’ system, there remains a group pf castes called the ‘Ati-Shudras’. Today the term for this group has been politically changed into ‘Dalits’. Dalits as a social group were formerly known as untouchables and majority of them own neither own land nor have been given any alternative occupational opportunity. They have been forced to engage in this unclean profession. That is why one can see in India that all the unclean work is carried out by Dalits. In this context, one could get an exact meaning behind Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar’s observation that the “Caste System is not merely a division of labour. It is also a division of labourers..”

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From Farm to Food: Distress of a Haryana–based Farmer during Coronavirus Lockdown


Lochan Sharma & Manish Kumar Sharma

COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a novel coronavirus, spreading primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes and is not an air borne disease, clarified WHO recently. On March 11, 2020, ‘deeply concerned’ World Health Organization (WHO) declared the spread of coronavirus as ‘pandemic’, pushing the threat beyond a global health emergency. With more than 1.1 million coronavirus cases across the globe, and 61,144 (as reported on April 04, 2020) death cases until date, international, national and state governments are taking respective stringent measures to curtail the spread of the coronavirus.

Governments across the globe have initiated a lockdown until a perpetual improvement is discerned in the number of new cases. The Indian government, shutting down all major industries, commercial and private establishments, has enforced similar restrictions and a full-fledged lockdown. However, essential services such as groceries, banks, ATMs, gas stations, telecommunications, fire services, healthcare and e-commerce remain operational. Statements from the finance minister, Britannia industries, railway ministry and economists are quite relieving but uncertainty undertones their assurances. Occurring in the crucial phase of the harvest season, the lockdown will inevitably affect agriculture sector drastically and subsequently influence lives of people dependent on agriculture and farming activities.

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When Caliban weds Miranda: `Discovering English’ in the poetry of S.Chandramohan


Umar Nizar

umar

"No, not a single letter is seen

On my race

So many histories are seen

On so many races"

--Poykayil Appachan (Tr: Ajay Sekher)

English is the unacknowledged Creole of the world. Chandramohan, the Indian English poet, uses the colonial patois to craft an intergenerational dialogue with the Malayali social reformer Poykayil Appachan. He uses the versatility and ecumenism of the English tongue to foster an audience for his poetry as well as to give visibility to subaltern struggles. Chandramohan writes, `I am the poet, fixing images/From the abyss of time/Into the canvas of the past/Where myth and history are miscible/with the precision and swiftness of/A forked-tongue cobra strike’.

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Open Letter to the CM of Maharashtra - Immediate Assistance to COVID-19 affected Slums

 

Date: 1st April, 2020

To,
Hon'ble Chief Minister and Hon’ble Deputy Chief Minister,
Government of Maharashtra

Subject: Immediate Assistance for COVID19 affected people in Mumbai slum areas

The novel COVID19 i.e. Coronavirus infection has spread at a very fast pace all over the world. Even if the government has taken all appropriate steps from time to time to prevent the spread of this epidemic across Maharashtra, and with the entire country under lockdown, the number of cases does not appear to be in control and is constantly rising.

mumbai covid19

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Open Letter to the Chief Minister of Maharashtra

 

Date: 27th March 2020

The Honorable Chief Minister,
Government of Maharashtra

Subject: Regarding the safety of nomadic tribal communities during the Covid-19 pandemic.

In light of the scenario resulting from the current global pandemic, Honorable Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and Honorable Prime Minister Narendra Modi have taken decisions which have been welcomed and followed by people. According to the orders given by the government, people are not to leave their homes. Most people are faithfully following these instructions, but while that is happening, people from nomadic communities, the ones who are without homes, the ones who travel from village to village for shelter and work every day to fill their stomach are still roaming about with no shelter in sight. All villages are under lockdown and people from outside are being refused entry. At such a time, which village will come to their rescue?

nt-dnt 1 This is the question that people belonging to nomadic tribes are currently facing. Many villages have refused them entry, roads have been blocked in several places, they aren't allowed to even wait near some villages, while others have closed their doors to them entirely. Because of this, the nomadic community is facing the danger of death due to starvation. These people don't have any documents or ration cards, so we request the government to please take measures to ensure that they are provided with ration without necessitating ration cards.

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The Meteoric Rise of L. Murugan, the new BJP Chief of Tamil Nadu


Keerthi Nathan

keerthi nathanThe past week, BJP unit of Tamil Nadu was suddenly brimming with a lot of activity after being dormant for a few months. Mr. L. Murugan had been appointed the President of the BJP State unit of TN much to everyone’s surprise. Mr. L. Murugan is also the Vice Chairman of the National SC/ST Commission. The post of State President of BJP TN unit had been lying vacant since September 2019 when Mrs. Tamilisai Soundararajan (former BJP TN President) was appointed the Governor of Telangana.

History of BJP in Tamil Nadu

Let us first analyze by tracing the current scenario of BJP in Tamil Nadu and how they have come a long way since the premiership of Mr. Narendra Modi. Before 2014, the BJP in Tamil Nadu was virtually an non-existent force barring a few instances such as winning four assembly seats in the 2001 TN Assembly Election thanks to its alliance with the DMK. But since then the party had been on a wane and used to consistently poll around 2% - 3% of the vote share. Cut short to 2014, the country was witnessing a phenomenal wave in the form of Mr. Narendra Modi and anti-Congress sentiment was running high primarily due to the anti-incumbency and corruption scandals.

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Chithralekha: An Icon of Resistance


Carmel Christy K J

The road gets narrower as you go to Chithralekha's grandmother's house where she used to live at the rear end of the village in Edat, Kannur in Kerala. The road ends at her house and there is no way to go further. Dalit houses at the end of the village is not an exception in India.1 Villages are designed in such a way that the upper-castes do not need to cross Dalit houses as they pass. It was not just about the possibility of them seeing or touching Dalits. It was also about a well-designed ecological and geographical exclusion. Houses are arranged in such a manner that wind blows from where upper-caste houses are situated to the Dalit houses. The idea was that upper-castes should not get polluted by the wind that has breezed over lower castes. The caste order decided not just access to the material and cultural resources, but also to the flows of nature.

ch book 1

It is in such a place where caste decides even the nature you can access that Chithralekha, a Dalit woman, decides to drive her autorickshaw on public roads in 2004. Her entry to the public roads which is in principle shared by all invites the wrath of the people from castes above hers and other guardians of the caste order. Ayyankali's fight against the casteist order more than a century ago did result in accessing public roads for Dalits in Kerala.2 If the public roads have become accessible to all and the right to work is ensured, how will one explain attacks against Chithralekha?

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