Skip to main content

"Revisit" and "reform" India's reservation policy, "provide" entitlements on the basis of vulnerability index

By Our Representative
A few senior Dalit activists, social workers and scholars, who gathered in for a workshop in Ahmedabad to discuss how to “annihilate” casteism from India a few days back, are learnt to have reached an atypical conclusion, which may not go down well with politicians: Drastically reform the present entitlement-based reservation policy, continuing in the country for decades. The activists agreed that while the reservation policy has helped create a new middle class among the Dalits, large sections of oppressed communities have remained outside overall development that has taken place in India.
Anchoring the meeting, Gagan Sethi -- heading Ahmedabad-based rights organisation Javnikas -- floated the idea of what he called “vulnerability index” in order to identify the most vulnerable individuals and sections suffering because of social and caste-based discrimination. “A poor Brahmin widow is definitely more vulnerable than a Dalit IAS bureaucrat”, Sethi asserted, adding, “As of today, the only category of Dalits whose life has not changed even little, and continues with its caste-based occupation, and suffers untouchability is the Valmiki community, involved in the despicable practice of manual scavenging.”
With decades of experience of working with Dalits and other oppressed sections, Sethi told Counterview that the idea of “vulnerability index” to identify the sections which need affirmative action is not new in the West, though it has not picked up in India. “It was discussed in the Planning Commission in February 2014 at a meeting on the need for setting up a viable Assessment and Monitoring Authority (AMA) for measuring the extent to which various schemes have helped the development of different socio-religious communities”, he said.
A high-level Government of India draft document, which provides details on on the subject, suggested the need to “generate data to mend the gap and also to recognize formerly unmapped vulnerable socio-religious communities (SRCs).” The document quotes Sethi as particularly stressing on the need to have what he called “multi-dimensional poverty index”, for which, he stressed, one should have a vulnerability-based approach.
Sethi, said the document, stressed that a national data bank (NDB), proposed for assessing the viability of all central programmes, should “begin work with the most vulnerable groups of Muslims, widows, manual scavengers, internally displaced persons, denotified tribes, persons living with HIV/AIDS, SC/ST and the destitute.”
The document said, “Such an assessment alone reveal whether universal schemes reach the more vulnerable groups in proportion to their populations and need. If not, in what ways can they be streamlined?” It added, this vulnerability index should be created not just for the most vulnerable areas, going right up to the block level, in the context of "for every government programme".
The Ahmedabad workshop, which saw exchange of ideas between Daniel Edwin, Gagan Sethi, Ghanshyam Shah, Manas Jena, Manjula Pradeep, Meenakshi Ganguly, Meera Velayudhan, Prasad Chacko, and Priyadarshi Telang, apart from several scholars with the Centre for Social Justice enrolled as fellows in the Lawyers for Change programme, reached the conclusion that it is clear to anyone that women manual scavengers, especially widows, are the most vulnerable section of Dalit society, yet it remains devoid of the "advantages" offered by reservation.
A well-known sociologist, Ghyanshyam Shah, particularly opined, “Only those who have received education up to 10th or 12th take advantage of reservation, as for the rest – who form 90 per cent of the population – are nowhere part of it.”
Shah stressed on the need to not just confine the Dalits' fight to overcome discrimination: "Unless the fight becomes part of the fight for liberty, equality and fraternity, for issues related with poverty and unemployment, things are unlikely to change." Others agreed that despite many decades, discrimination remains intact and has infected Dalit sub-castes, suggesting the need for an alternative strategy. 




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.

Mental health: India's 95% patients "deprived" of medical care, treatment gap 70%

By Moin Qazi*
Among the many challenges India faces, the most underappreciated is the ongoing mental health crisis. Mental illness is actually India’s ticking bomb. An estimated 56 million Indians suffer from depression, and 38 million from anxiety disorders. For those who suffer from mental illness, life can seem like a terrible prison from which there is no hope of escape; they are left forlorn and abandoned, stigmatized, shunned and misunderstood.

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.