Authorities’ subdued response to demand to end manual scavenging in Dudhrej, a small town in Surendranagar district, Gujarat

Evidence of manual scavenging in Dudhrej

Evidence of manual scavenging in Dudhrej

By Natubhai Parmar*

Dudhrej municipality in Surendranagar district of Gujarat is in news for quite some time following strong protests by contract workers against the despicable practice of manual scavenging. Organized under the Safai Kamdar Hakk Rakshak Samiti, which is supported by Navsarjan Trust, Ahmedabad, on August 14, 2014 they took out a rally in Surendraganar against the way the municipal authorities treat them while on work, and are forced to manually clean up human excreta despite the law banning it. Following the rally, the Samiti submitted a list of demands to the district collector, which included end to the contract system and implementation of the law that prohibits manual scavenging. The Samiti received a reply from the chief officer, municipality, to the memorandum. Following is the Samiti’s reaction to the municipal authorities’ reply: Read more of this post

High time SC subplan guidelines are legislated to ensure due share of financial resources reach the schedule castes

dalit budget2By Mahender Jethmalani*

The Scheduled Castes (SCs) are one of the most vulnerable groups and are seen as low castes in the social strata, since the Hindu social order is a caste hierarchical order. Historically, the SCs have been denied access and right to productive resources like land, forests, capital and other community resources. Further, the prevalence of caste based discrimination and the practice of untouchability against the SCs hinder their access to basic minimum facilities like education, health care, drinking water etc, thus weakening their socio-economic prosperity over the period.

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Gandhiji believed in removal of untouchability within the caste system, but was a believer in the caste system itself


Gandhiji interacting with Dalits in his ashram

By Nandini Oza*

Delivering her Mahatma Ayyankali memorial lecture at the Kerala University on July 17, among other things, Arundhati Roy spoke about Gandhiji and his views on  Varnashram  (caste system), and based on this, she asked a few uncomfortable questions (click HERE to read). Many people have also asked me what my stand on the subject is. Though I cannot claim to be a scholar on Gandhian thoughts and work, I can say that I have read Gandhiji’s own writings as well as the writings of his close aides and secretaries like Mahadevbhai Desai, Indulal Yagnik (all in Gujarati). I have come across a few references in Mahadevbhai Desai’s diary which make the views of Gandhiji regarding Varnashram Dharma/the caste system clear. From some of these writings, I can say that there is no ambiguity in Gandhiji’s belief in the Varnashram Dharma (caste system). Gandhiji believed in removal of untouchability within the caste system, but was a believer in the caste system itself.

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The story of Mahatma Gandhi we are taught in school and we are made to believe is a lie and it’s time we faced up to it


Click on the image to watch the video of Arundhati Roy’s speech

Reproduced below is well-known novelist Arundhati Roy’s Mahatma Ayyankali lecture at the Kerala University, Trivandrum, on July 17, where she sought to contrast Ayyankali’s contributions to society to those of a “false” Mahatma, Gandhiji. The speech has gone controversial, with Kerala Assembly speaker G Karthikeyan calling Roy’s views on Gandhiji as hurting “anyone who is born in India”. Meanwhile, the police sought the transcript of her speech and the video. The speech and the video have now been released by Delhi-based anti-caste publishing house Navayana:

My comrades on the dais and friends, I’m a little nervous because I wasn’t expecting that I would have to speak to such a large audience. I told Dr Suresh [Jnaneswaran Director, Mahatma Ayyankali Chair] when I was coming that I’m just going to come and make a few informal remarks. I thought there will be hundred people. Thank you so much for coming. I’m going to try and… please forgive me if I disturb the comfort level here because that is what I do. First of all I’m here not as an academic or a scholar but as a storyteller. We all know that every society needs heroes, and in India we are not short of heroes except that I think the ones we celebrate are mostly the wrong ones.

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Dalit community land of North Gujarat village encroached upon in 2007, but no action despite orders by DGP, home department

Cops "inspecting" land taken away from Dalits, but refuse to file FIR

Cops “inspecting” land taken away from Dalits, but refuse to file FIR

By Sanjay Parmar*

In a classic example official indifference, 23 families of the most backward scheduled caste (SC) community, Nadia, have been waiting to get back the land taken away from them fraudulently about seven years ago. Handed over to them as collective ownership way back in 1952 for cultivation, they were suddenly deprived of their only means of livelihood in June 2007. The land was first encroached upon by two brothers belonging to the non-Dalit castes of Ahmedpura village of Talod taluka, Sabarkantha district. The land was recently “resold” to a Kutchi Patel contractor living about 15 kilomtres away, in Vadagam village.

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Rural Gujarat Dalits represent to Gujarat chief minister, complain of discrimination in access to drinking water, basic facilities

Dharisana Dalits in the chief minister's office to hand over the representation

Dharisana Dalits in the chief minister’s office to hand over the representation

By Kirit Rathod*

Stigmatization of Dalits in access to water remains an important issue in Gujarat’s rural areas, as in the rest of India. One of the latest examples if this came to light on July 24, 2014, when the Dalit Hak Rakshak Samiti (DHRS) of Dharisana village, situated just about 30 kilometres from Gujarat’s capital, Gandhinagar, was forced to submit a memorandum regarding this to Gujarat chief minister Anandiben Patel on how their access to safe drinking water was being hampered by members of the dominant castes. Situated in Dahegam taluka, Dharisana village has a population of 4,000 people. The Dalits, consisting of Rohits, Garobrahmins, Vankars, and Valmikis, are in minority – they form just about 300 people, or 42 households. In its representation signed by Dalit households, the DHRS said, “Despite 62 years of India’s Independence, the Dalits of Dharisana, situated very close to two major cities of Gujarat, Gandhinagar and Ahmedabad, are being deprived of basic facilities, including water.”

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Recognize safai karmacharis of Valmiki community as manual scavengers, give them permanent jobs, housing plots

SCAVENGERS--621x414By Kirit Rathod*

Gujarat State claims to be No 1 in India for achieving its developmental goals. This claim is being made despite the fact that members of the Valmiki community of the scheduled castes (SCs) for years have been employed in Gujarat State’s gram panchayats, municipalities, municipal corporations and private companies in such odd jobs like disposal of human excreta and dead animals. A special civil application No 13911/08 was filed in the Gujarat High Court on this state of affairs, following a news item published in the Times of India (“These Hands Deal with Filth”, November 17, 2008).   The petition to the  Gujarat High Court quoted data provided by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Government of India, which had estimates that, as on January 9, 2007, there were 64,195 safai karmacharis in Gujarat. There is reason to believe that the number of safai karmacharis would have gone up drastically thereafter.

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