Gujarat’s caste reality has a murky detail: Dalits of Kheda district cannot use crematorium meant for general category Hindus

IMG_20130913_101152By Hitesh Chavda*

Though India became a republic in 1950, an important form of caste discrimination has continued till today, with every successive government refusing to do anything to bring about an end to it. Go to any rural area, and you will find that there will be a separate cemetery for Dalits in villages. At some places, the government has even provided funds to build separate cemetery structures for Dalits. An effort was made to understand the issue as it exists in Central Gujarat’s Kheda district. Right to information (RTI) applications were filed in the district collector’s office and the panchayat office of a village to find out what the reality was.

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Disposable pads, disposable lives: Health and life of “conservancy workers”, coming from lowest Dalit sub-caste, is at risk

BinduBy Bindu Mohanty*

Worldwide disposable sanitary napkins flushed down toilets cause huge problems as they clog up sewers. Most sewerage systems, being designed before the advent of disposable napkins, are meant to carry only water and excreta. Besides the huge costs in maintenance of sewerage systems worldwide, in India the problem is exacerbated by the fact that, in contravention to existing laws, conservancy workers, with no protection whatsoever, have to go down the manholes to manually clean the blockages. Ecofemme, a manufacturer of manual scavengerreusable sanitary pads in Auroville, recently met with conservancy workers in Chennai and learnt about the devastating social impact of disposable pads.

“When you throw something away, where is away?” asks the celebrated environmental activist, Julia Butterfly Hill.(1) Indeed, where is away? “Away” conjures that mythical place, far from one’s home, where one is absolved from dealing with the ignominious impact of one’s action.

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Since 2001, Gujarat government didn’t allocate a single rupee to build statue in Dr Ambedkar’s memory: Official reply to RTI query

ambedkarApril 24 is the birth anniversary of Dr BR Ambedkar, architect of Indian constitution and the main force behind the fight against untouchability in India. Yet, as recent RTI replies to senior activist Kirit Rathod suggest, Gujarat government remains indifferent towards remembering him. A analysis:

Information provided by the Gujarat government’s social justice and empowerment department, under the right to information (RTI) Act, as also other sources, suggests that the state government has shown high degree of indifference towards promoting ideals and values for which Dr BR Ambedkar stood. An RTI application was made by Kirit Rathod, a senior activist of the Navsarjan Trust, Ahmedabad, seeking to find out what exactly has the Gujarat government done to build Ambedkar Bhawans in each of the 225 talukas of Gujarat, as also all the 26 districts, about which a big announcements were made way back in 2007, with an eye of the then state assembly polls in order to woo Dalit votes. The information sought included how many of the Ambedkar Bhawans were constructed between 2001 and 2014, as also the amount spent for constructing the Bhawans.

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Dalit reservation in private sector should include legal safeguards of equal opportunities and non-discrimination

dalit manifestroThe National Coalition on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act (SC-ST PoA Act), which is the apex body of more than 500 community-based social organizations across India, following a series of consultations in the past few months, has come up with the Dalit Election Manifesto 2014 for the 16th Lok Sabha elections. Running into 28 pages, reproduced below is the portion which argues in favour of providing reservation to Dalits in private sector:

Dalits continue to be one of the poorest segments of the Indian population. Many remain confined to their traditional menial and lowly valued caste occupations even today. They form a bulk of the informal, unorganized sector workers, who subsist on low wages with poor working conditions and no social security. They also continue to face widespread exclusion and discrimination in the arena of labour and employment. Policy and legislative measures to promote equal rights and opportunities for Dalits in employment, including reservations in government employment, have not made sufficient inroads into this situation to date. They continue to be significantly underrepresented in most professional jobs and in the private sector. Read more of this post

Porbandar Dalits’ ouster from their residence: Incidents of forced migration continue amid Gujarat government indifference

A member of the Dalit family overlooking the destroyed house

A member of the Dalit family overlooking the destroyed house

By Kantilal Parmar*

Cases of forced migration of Dalits from Gujarat’s villages continue to pile up, even as indifference on the part of the Gujarat administration appears to have become even more visible.  Though an incident of forced migration of Dalits of Bhodadal village, Ranavav taluka, Porbandar district, was reported to the Gujarat police on December 18, 2013, and complaints about this were lodged to  the district collector, Porbandar, the district superintendent of police (DSP), the backward class welfare officer, the Gujarat chief minister, the director general of police, the state home minister, the state social justice and empowerment minister, and the secretary, social justice and empowerment, the 13 persons were forcibly displaced after their houses were destroyed have  not been rehabilitated.

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