Skip to main content

All-round indifference prevails towards proposal to provide scheduled caste status to Nats

Maganbhai
Counterview Desk
In a recent blog, Umesh Solanki, documentary maker and writer, has highlighted little-known fact about a community in Gujarat which is treated as untouchable but is deprived of being treated on par with other sections of Dalits. In his report, “Untouchable but not Dalit”, Solanki gives the instance of Mangabhai Parmar from Lathi in Amreli district, hardworking man, to prove his point. Maganbhai is one of the 10,580 persons who belong to a very small community called Nat, a Nomadic tribe. To him “sweat is natural to the body, and this nature has derived from the social tradition, or let me say, caste system”, underlies Solanki.
Reason? Mangabhai belongs to the Nat (not the Marwadi Nut) community. Nat is the one of the 28 nomadic tribes in Gujarat. Its population is 10580, and is spread out in 82 villages of Gujarat, as per the “updated information” gathered by Babubhai Solanki, who himself is a Nat, and belongs to Chotila in Surendranagar district. “The Nats traditionally expertise in such acrobatic games, like walking on rope, or do very different kinds body exercises with rings, bamboo and swords. that give surprise and entertainment to viewers”, Solanki says.
“The Nats display their skill publicly, in the open, though one thing is very necessary to remember them, that traditionally they did not have the social permission to show their art to all the communities. They were permitted display their games to only Dalit communities”, Solanki says.
Noting how because of poor education and fast growing technology the Nats are losing their traditional art, with some of them becoming drivers, farm labourers, masons and so on, Solanki says, “The Nats’ dwellings have been in Dalit, especially ‘Vankar (weaver) locality for years”, adding, “Here one important thing is necessary to remember, that because of this compulsion imposed by society, migrated from the state of the Rajsthan, the Nat has been facing the untouchability in Gujarat for years.”
Solanki regrets how the community “could not become beneficiary of reservation policy and of welfare schemes for scheduled sastes (Dalits), even though they are victims of untouchability.” This is “because they are not in the list of the Scheduled Castes”, he adds, saying, there is nothing surprising about it. “Any community that is the victimized of untouchability must be in the List of the scheduled castes, for, that is its right”, he insists.
Pointing out that the Constitution of India is ”silent about the definition of scheduled castes”, Solanki adds, its Article 341(1) says that the President after consultation with the governor, alone can, by public notification, ”specify the castes, races or tribes or parts of, or groups within castes, races or tribes which shall for the purposes of this Constitution be deemed to be scheduled castes in relation to that state (or union territory, as the case may be).”
In this context, Solanki says, it is noteworthy how for many years ago, the Mochi community had been excluded from the list of the scheduled castes “because of many kind of long-term pressures created by the Dalit leadership and the Dalit communities.” This could be because in Gujarat, the Mochi community is not a victim of untouchability like that in other states of India. “Hence it was listed as an other backward class”, he adds.
Be that as it may, the question should be asked, as to why no one has created the pressure on the government to include Nat in the List of scheduled castes. “A decade ago this kind of pressure was created by the Nat community, its leadership and NGOs, without any success. I don’t know why, perhaps it was not strategic, or it was short term, or because of weaker political leadership, or because of lack of political will of the representatives of Gujarat, today nobody thinks about the Nat community as a a Dalit community”, Solanki laments.
Significantly, Nats are not alone who are treated like untouchables. There are in all 192 nomadic tribes (NTs) and de-notified tribes (DNTs) of the country who suffer from a similar problem. A voluntary organization, Bhasha Trust lobbied with the Central government (both UPA and NDA), and finally succeeded to convince Dr. Manmohan Singh in 2005 and to appoint a national commission to study the problems of DNTs.
Meanwhile, the Government of India has asked the Budhan Theatre to a conduct survey on the status of nomadic and de-notified tribes in Gujarat. It has completed the survey of Devi-Pujaks, Madaris and Nats in the various districts. It is now conducting a survey for more 10 communities.

Comments

TRENDING

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Modi model? "Refusal" to build Narmada's micro canals, keep Kutch dry; help industry

By Medha Patkar*
This is the latest photograph of the Kutch Branch Canal (KBC) of the Sardar Sarovar, as of April 8! What does it show, expose, and what memories do you recall? Is it dry or dead? Is it a canal or a carcass of the same?

Bill Gates "promoting" GMO, Bt cotton, like cartels that have roots in Hitler's Germany

By Our Representative
World-renowned environmental leader and ecologist Dr Vandana Shiva has expressed concern that Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft Corporation, has joined the bandwagon of “a poison cartel of three" – Monsanto and Bayer, Syngenta and ChemChina, Dow and DuPont – all of whom allegedly have “roots in Hitler’s Germany and finding chemicals to kill people”.

Indian talc products contain "contaminated" asbestos structures, can cause cancer: Study

Counterview Desk
A recent study, using polarizing light microscopy, transmission electron microscopy (TEM), electron diffraction, and X-ray analysis on multiple over-the-counter Indian talc products for the presence of asbestos, has concluded that large quantities of body talc products are likely to pose a public health risk for asbestos-related diseases, especially for the cancers related to asbestos exposure.

Why are you silent on discrimination against Dalit jawans? Macwan questions Modi

By Rajiv Shah
Close on the heels of releasing his book in Gujarati, "Bhed Bharat", which lists 319 cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis across the country over the last five years, well-known Gujarat Dalit rights leader Martin Macwan has shot an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, telling him the reasons why he does not want vote for the BJP.

Jharkhand Adivasi lynched to death by mob "chanting" Jai Shri Ram: Fact-finding team

Counterview Desk
On April 10, 2019, Prakash Lakda, a 50-year old Adivasi of Jurmu village of Gumla’s Dumri block, was lynched to death by a mob of men from the Sahu community of neighbouring Jairagi village. Three other victims from Jurmu – Peter Kerketta, Belarius Minj and Janerius Minj – sustained severe injuries due to the beating by the mob. A fact-finding team of Jharkhand Janadhikar Mahasabha (JJM), comprising of several activists and representatives of member organisations, conducted a fact-finding inquiry into the incident on April 14-15.

Investigation shows Narmada downstream "seriously" polluted. Reason: apathy, greed

By Rohit Prajapati, Krishnakant, Swati Desai*
Our investigation regarding quality of water flowing in the Narmada river downstream of the Sardar Sarovar Dam (SSD), dated April 6, 2019, between 11.00 a.m. to 4.00 p.m. reiterates, what is commonly known now, that the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) is planned without considering its impact on the downstream Narmada River stretch of 161 kilometres, its ecology, biodiversity and fishery, and lakhs of people living close to and dependent on the river directly or indirectly. This, in turn, has led to its present disastrous state.

Emergence of a rare Dalit teacher in IIT-Kanpur "disturbed" certain faculty members

By PS Krishnan, IAS (Retd)*
Dr Subrahmanyam Sadrela, a faculty member in the Department of Aerospace Engineering, Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Kanpur since January 1, 2018, and one of the rare Dalit members of the faculty in IIT group of institutions, is facing the threat of revocation of his PhD thesis, and thereby also jeopardizing his job and career.

RTE in remote areas? Govt of India "plans" to close down 2.4 lakh schools

By Srijita Majumder*
The Right to Education (RTE) Act, 2009, came into effect on April 1, 2010, for the first time made it obligatory on the part of the State to provide free and compulsory education to all children from 6-14 years of age in India. The Act, despite its limitations, had progressive elements like neighbourhood schools, community participation, ban on corporal punishment, no detention, continuous and comprehensive evaluation and it hence it appeared that India was not far from achieving universal elementary education.

Election Commission suffering from worst-ever "credibility crisis": Ex-bureaucrats

Counterview Desk
In an open letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, a group of ex-bureaucrats have lamented ‘weak-kneed’ responses of the Election Commission of India (ECI) in the run up to the 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Citing various violations of the model code of conduct, and pointing towards how ECI has taken little action, the letter asks the President to tell ECI to “conduct itself in a manner where its independence, fairness, impartiality and efficiency are not questioned.”