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

ISKCON UK 'clarifies' after virus infects devotees, 5 die due to big temple meet

By Rajiv Shah
The International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON), United Kingdom (UK), has admitted that at least 21 of its devotees were infected because of the spread of the coronavirus amongst the UK devotee community following the March 12 funeral and March 15 memorial of the Bhaktivedanta Manor temple president, in which about 1,000 people participated. Regretting that five of the devotees have passed away, the top Hindu religious in Britain body does not deny more may have been infected.

As corona virus 'travels' to rural areas, NGO begins training tribals, marginalised women

By Souparno Chatterjee*
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared corona virus a pandemic. Originating from Wuhan in China, it has traversed the entire globe, almost, and claimed more than 16,000 lives already. That’s largely the urban population. In India, despite all the preparedness and war-like promptness to safeguard against the pandemic, several lives have been lost , and hundreds of individuals have tested positive.

Rani Laxmi Bai, Tatya Tope 'martyred' by East India Company, Scindia's forefathers

By Our Representative
In an email alert to Counterview, well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam has said that was “shameful for any political party in democratic India to keep children of Sindhias in their flock” given their role during the First War of Indian Independence (1857). In a direct commentary on Madhya Pradesh Congress leader Jyotiraditya Scindia moving over to BJP, Prof Islam has quote from a British gazetteer to prove his point.

COVID-19: Dalit rights bodies regret, no relief plan yet for SCs, STs, marginalized

By Our Representative
In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the National Dalit Watch-National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, endorsed* by several other Dalit rights organizations, have insisted, the Government of India should particular care of the scheduled castes and tribes, trans folks, persons with disabilities and the women and children from these communities, while fighting against COVID-19 pandemic.

Mallika Sarabhai releases speech she was 'not allowed' to give at NID Convocation on Feb 7

Counterview Desk
The National Institute of Design (NID) in Ahmedabad, a Ministry of Commerce and Industry body, landed itself in controversy following its decision to put off its 40th convocation ceremony, where noted danseuse Mallika Sarabhai was invited as chief guest. The ceremony was scheduled to be held on February 7.

Idea of fair, tall, customized baby "rooted" in Nazi Germany, RSS' Golwalkar wanted crossbreeding with Brahmins

By Our Representative
Facts have come to light suggesting that the RSS’ experiment to have “fair”, “tall” and “customized” baby has an interesting Gujarat connection: It was first reportedly floated by its topmost ideologue Guru Golwalkar way back in 1960 while giving a lecture in Gujarat University.

Coronavirus scare ‘pushing’ people from Northeast India into more hardship

By Rishiraj Sinha, Biswanath Sinha*
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or his religion. People learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
***

Gujarat govt plan to 'banish' Gandhian activist anti-democratic, unconstitutional

By Rohit Prajapati*
The current Central and Gujarat governments, and their bureaucracy, have been and are still unable to answer and address the concerns raised, with facts, figures, and constitutional provisions, regarding the terror of tourism in the name of the Statue of Unity and tourism projects surrounding it.

Gujarat construction workers walk home as Rs 2,900 crore welfare fund lies unused

By Our Representative
Situated behind the Gujarat University, some of the families of the migrant construction workers from Dahod and Panchmahals districts of Gujarat, and a few from Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh, who had stayed put in make-shift shanties in Ahmedabad’s sprawling GMDC Ground, have begun a long journey, by foot, back to their home villages in the eastern tribal belt of Gujarat.