Skip to main content

Uttar Pradesh Dalit boys feel more empowered than those from "model state" Gujarat, rest of India

Mayawati
By Rajiv Shah
A recent interaction by Counterview with around 50 Dalit youths off Ahmedabad suggested that Dalits from Uttar Pradesh feel relatively more empowered to fight against untouchability and caste discrimination compared to other states. In fact, the interaction showed that blatant discrimination against the Dalits may have become a thing of the past in that state.
Asit Ranjan from a village in Allahabad district, told Counterview during the two-hour session at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), about 12 kilometres away from the famous Tata Nano small car factory, that After Mayawati became Uttar Pradesh chief minister, Dalits higher castes dare not practice untouchability in distribution of water, or providing tea at the tea stall, or entering temple."
Added his colleague, Arvind Chaudhary from yet another village in the same district, "Earlier, the barber wouldn't entertain Dalits. But now things have changed. They dare not say no to us any more. We feel empowered."
The 50-odd boys had come to DSK to be trained in technical skill, though they were simultaneously provided with "empowerment skills." Well-known Dalit rights activist Martin Macwan, who runs DSK, told Counterview, "The boys are now virtual timebombs. Returning to their states, they will no more tolerate any form of caste discrimination."
The two UP bo writ large on their face, whether it was distribution of water, entry into the temple, getting haircut from the local barber, or constructing toilets. Around 50 of them had come all the way from different parts of India to be “empowered” at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), a unique institute about 20 kilometres south of Ahmedabad, set up by Dalit rights activist Martin Macwan more than a decade ago.
The boys had come from Uttarkhand, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, and Gujarat – most of them Dalits or Adaivasis – to learn technical skills and interact with Dalit rights activists on the need to stand up against discrimination. The six-month-long programme ended last week.
In sharp contrast to UP, in "model" Gujarat, things are different. Mehul Rathod from Savda village in Patdi taluka in North Gujarat said, “I was involved in doing painting work at the local Ramji temple. They told us it's God’s work, hence we shouldn’t charge any wages, though I managed to get my share. Now, we are not allowed into the temple.”
“This has happened”, he says, “despite the fact that the village has a Dalit Sarpanch, who has been a campaigner against illegal sand mining from the protected forest area of the Rann of Kutch, situated in the neighbourhood. He took out a rally against illegal mining. About 10 of us were beaten up. One of us was hospitalized. Later, there was a wider protest. Today, there is permanent police company posted in the village to maintain peace.”
Quite in line with this Gujarat boy, Babloo, from a small village in Dehradun district of Uttarakhand, said he faced "attacks" from dominant castes when they tried entering into the local temple. “We tried doing it by forming a group of 150. We were attacked. Police refused to take complaint. Even today, they threaten me”, he added.
Yet another youth hailing from a nearby village in the same district, Dinesh Jonsara, said, entry into the temple, situated in Lakshiyar town, is banned for Dalits even those who helped construct it. “My father was a mason. I helped him build the temple in 2009. The temple management was reluctant to even pay us, saying it was religious work. And after we built the temple, our entry is banned.”
In a quick survey, of the 50 boys who had gathered for interaction with Counterview, 20 said there were separate cups from “untouchables” at village tea stalls; 14 said temple entry was banned; 12 said, Dalits had separate cremation grounds in their villages; and 10 said they witnessed “violent attacks” on Dalits when they protested against an untouchability practice.
Ramsingh Sanehi from a rural area next to Pamgarh town in Chhattisgarh, said, the Dalits in the village from where he hails are not allowed to take water from the common water source, a well, when persons from the dominant castes are there. “We cannot touch their buckets. There have been police complaints, but things have not changed”, he said.
Making a similar complaint, Lalu Ravidas, who hails from Jharkhand’s Navadi village, about 26 km away from Bokaro Steel Plant, said, “Our children are made to sit separately in schools.” He added, as for toilets, “90 per cent of the households in the Dalit basti do not have them, with the government not providing the funds it had promised in order to build them.”
Jaiprakash Kol and Jitendra Kol, who is from separate villages in Riva district of Madhya Pradesh, complained that access to water, even from the handpump, was a problem, especially when an upper caste person was around. “There discrimination in disbursement of funds for building toilets, for getting work under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, in providing midday meal to children”, both of them said.

Comments

ALSO READ

India failing to dictate diplomatic preferences of Nepal, Bhutan, is unfairly blaming Beijing: Chinese daily

By Our Representative
In a sharply-worded editorial, a top Chinese media outfit, described by BBC as state-run, has said, commenting on India's foreign relations with its neighbours, that "speculation and suspicion" is "certainly not diplomacy". Published in "China Daily", the largest circulating English Monday-to-Saturday newspaper with branches across the world, the editorial notes (September 20) that "several recent events" in Nepal and Bhutan, are "gnawing worrywarts in New Delhi".
The editorial -- which comes close on the heels of a sharp critique of India's foreign policy in a state-supported Russian media outfit, Sputnik International, calling India's anti-Pak diplomacy as having "gone awry" following Prime Minister Narendra Modi's "half-baked" push for anti-terror drill down "others' throat" -- says, the " worrywarts" include "Nepalese troops taking part in a joint…

Accused of being RSS plant, Modi man, Hyderabad Urdu varsity chancellor asks President to probe "irregularities"

Counterview Desk
Refused entry in the Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU), the central university's newly appointed chancellor Firoz Bakht Ahmed, who claims to be grand nephew of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, has, in a letter to the President of India, said that MANUU vice-chancellor (V-C) Dr Aslam Parvaiz has accused him of being an RSS plant and a Modi man, whose sole aim is to "interfere in the working of the university".

Ahmedabad, GIFT, Adani city get 1.68 lakh acre ft Narmada water; Gujarat's rural areas just 4.27 AF: Letter to CM

Counterview Desk
Well-known farmer rights leader Sagar Rabari, in an open letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, has demanded a transparent account of Narmada water, saying, while he has received a "routine reply" from him to his earlier, the data emerging from his RTI application show huge quantity of water being directed to Ahmedabad, the 10 km stretch of Sabarmati for the Ahmedabad riverfront, and nearby elite urban areas, including the Adanis' Shantigram township and GIFT City.

17 lakh Jharkhand elderly, widows, differently abled do not receive pension: Public hearing told, aadhaar is a hurdle

By Our Representative
Hundreds of elderly, widows, single women and differently-abled persons from different districts of Jharkhand gathered near the Raj Bhavan in Ranchi for a public hearing organized by the Jharkhand Right to Food Campaign and Pension Parishad demanding the right to universal social security pensions ahead of World Elderly Day on October 1.

Ethnocide in Caribbean island filmed following award winning docufilm on Jamaica's anti-colonial Indian roots

International awards winner for Best Feature Documentary Linda Aïnouche for “Dreadlocks Story” (2014), which shows how Indians are entangled in the Jamaican society, and how Hinduism was a source of inspiration for the Rastafari movement, is all set to release her new documentary, “Marooned in the Caribbean”, which aims at documenting the awful desolating living conditions that Raizal people, the native inhabitants of San Andres Archipelago, endure.
Sons of slaves, these islanders have fallen prey to what the Colombian government calls Colombianization. “It’s a process”, according to her, “which kills the Raizal culture; it’s the killing of the Raizal soul. Colombianization subjugates Afro-descendants of San Andres to an ethnocide.”

Explorer, director and producer, Linda Aïnouche writes exclusively for Counterview: ***
Nobody escapes from blood and thunder in Colombia, and definitely not in the archipelago of San Andres, situated closer to Managua and Kingston than Bogota. The Raizal p…

India to deport Rohingya refugees, as the world moves towards prosecuting Myanmar for genocide

By Tapan Bose*
Seven Rohingya Muslims refugees who were held at a detention centre in Assam since 2012 will be handed over to Myanmar. The Supreme Court of India has refused to stop their deportation. The new Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gagoi said, "We are not inclined to interfere on the decision taken".

An elite Kutir set up by Modi far from the "madding" crowd: This Gandhi museum is formal, unapproachable

By Rajiv Shah
Have you ever heard of a Gandhi museum, sough to be projected as the “largest” on the Mahatma, yet totally inaccessible, in sharp contrast to Ahmedabad’s humble, approachable and unassuming Gandhi Ashram on the banks of Sabarmati, set up by the Mahatma during the heydays of the freedom movement? It exists about 30 kilometres away, its idea was conceived by none other than a person who has today become even more inaccessible than he ever was: Narendra Modi, India's Prime Minister.

History less known: Kasturba's role as an independent woman and a freedom fighter in her own right

By Nandini Oza*
Even the most deserving of women do not find a place that equals their worth in history. Kasturba is one such woman whose contribution to India’s struggle for freedom has been exemplary, and yet, it has not received the recognition it deserves. Kastur Makhanji Kapadia was born in the year 1869, the same year and in the same town of Porbandar in Gujarat as Gandhiji. In fact she was older than Gandhiji by a few months.

Hyderabad-based Urdu university "bars" entry of its new chancellor, who had "initiated" reforms in institute

Counterview Desk
In an unusual controversy, Aslam Parvaiz, vice-chancellor of of the Hyderabad-based Maulana Azad National Urdu University (MANUU) has restricted the entry of its newly appointed Chancellor, Firoz Bakht Ahmed, allegedly because he was trying to initiate reforms, including setting up of a Maulana Azad Center for Composite Culture and Progressive Studies, Model Madrasa, Center for Empowerment of Muslim Women, Course for the Development of Legal Vocabulary and Legal Consciousness in Urdu, and so on.

Poor response to tenders for Gujarat's bid for the world's tallest statue, no international firm shows interest

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government’s claim that its decision to build the world’s highest statue in the world, in the memory of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, would attract “tremendous” response top international construction companies, has gone phut. The state government floated international tenders in August to build the statue, which is slated to be 182-metres high. Despite the “international” character of the tenders and big claims, well-informed Sachivalaya sources close to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi say, “not one international firm has come up to offer to carry out the construction activity.”