Skip to main content

Los Angeles Times: Modi govt's crackdown on Gujarat Dalit rights NGO which fought caste politically motivated

Under threat: A Navsarjan school in Surendranagar district
By Our Representative
Following US’s powerful daily “The New York Times” objecting to the Modi government cancelling foreign funding license to Gujarat’s topmost Dalit rights organization (click HERE), Navsarjan Trust, another influential daily, “Los Angeles Times” (LAT), has termed the action a part of the wider government “crackdown against civil society” and “dissent.”
Calling the Modi move “politically motivated”, LAT has said, Navsarjan, “an Indian charity”, has “battled caste discrimination for three decades”, but is now being attacked for harming India’s national interest.
Going to the roots of the problem, the daily noted, the non-profit group was stripped of its FCRA license “for organizing protests last summer after seven Dalits were publicly flogged in Una, a town in southern Gujarat, for skinning a cow that had been mauled to death by a lion.”
Pointing to how handling cow carcasses is one of the “many lowly occupations assigned to Dalits by upper-caste Hindus, who regard the animal as sacred”, it added, yet another issue which made the government nervous was the way Navsarjan helped lead a campaign “that forced investigators in August to reopen an inquiry into a 2012 police shooting that killed three young Dalit men.”
LAT said, “The government is particularly sensitive to social unrest in Gujarat, a prosperous coastal state that Modi led until 2014, and is still run by his party”, adding, “The powerful prime minister has held up Gujarat as a model of economic development, but recent protests by Dalits and other marginalized groups have chipped away at that carefully constructed image.”
“In parliamentary debates following the Una beatings”, LAT said, “Opposition lawmakers referred to a landmark 2010 survey that researchers from Navsarjan and the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights carried out in 1,589 Gujarat villages.”
It added, “The findings laid bare how many Dalits, who make up 16% of India’s 1.25 billion people, are still treated as subhuman”, quoting Navsarjan founder Martin Macwan as saying,
“This report took all the air out of the so-called ‘Gujarat model’ of development. It showed that development and inequality can coexist.”
Pointing out that the Ministry of Home Affairs’ decision to block Navsarjan's overseas funds, amounting to almost $400,000 annual budget, has forced the non-profit organization to lay off
its 80 staff members, LAT said, it would mean suspending its other charitable works as well, including three schools educating Dalit children.
Other charity works which would be hit included giving help to the likes of Dudhabhai Kalabhai, said LAT. Dudhabhai, it added, was victim of two upper-caste villagers, who found that Dudhabhai had ventured “too close to the temple entrance”, hence they thrashed “the 70-year-old farmer with sticks, hospitalizing him with arm and leg injuries.”
Quoting family members, LAT said, the police in Gujarat “at first refused to take the case seriously”, and it “wasn’t until the human rights group Navsarjan deployed representatives and a lawyer that the assailants were arrested, tried and sentenced to two-year prison terms.”
LAT insisted, “It was one of thousands of cases that Navsarjan has fought since 1988 on behalf of Dalits, formerly known as untouchables, who continue to endure social stigma and economic marginalization 70 years after India’s constitution outlawed caste-based discrimination.”

Comments

TRENDING

It's now official: Developed Gujarat's regular, casual workers earn less than 19 top states

By Rajiv Shah
Though not as low as state chief minister Vijay Rupani claims it to be (0.9%), Gujarat’s unemployment rate, at least as reflected in a recent report released by the Government of India, is 4.8%, lower than the national average, 6%. Yet, ironically, the same report, released soon after the Lok Sabha polls came to an end in May 2019, brings to light an even grimmer reality: Lower wages in "model" and "developed" Gujarat compared to virtually the whole of India, including the so-called Bimaru states.

Amaravati: World Bank refusing to share public grievances on Land Pooling Scheme

By Our Representative
A new report, prepared by the advocacy group Centre for Financial Accountability (CFA), New Delhi, has taken strong exception to the World Bank refusing to share its independent assessment of the Land Pooling Scheme (LPS), floated by the Andhra Pradesh government in order to build the new capital.

Beijing-based infrastructure bank 'funding' India's environmentally risky projects

By Our Representative
A new civil society note has questioned the operations of the Beijing-based Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), a multilateral development bank that aims to support the building of infrastructure in the Asia-Pacific region, seeking to fund projects in India through the Government of India’s National Infrastructure Investment Fund (NIIF), calling it “a risky venture”.

British companies export 'deadly' asbestos to India, other countries from offshore offices

By Rajiv Shah
“The Sunday Times”, which forms part of the powerful British daily, “The Times”, has raised the alarm that though the “deadly” asbestos is banned in Britain, companies registered in United Kingdom, and operating from other countries, “are involved in shipping it to developing nations”, especially India. India, Brazil, Russia and China account for almost 80% of the asbestos consumed globally every year, it adds.

Govt of India 'lying': MGNREGA budget reduced by Rs 1,084 crore in 2019-20

Counterview Desk
NREGA Sangharsh Morcha, a well-known advocacy group for the rural jobs guarantee scheme, under implementation since 2005, has said that the statement by the Rural Development Minister has a made a mockery of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on the floor of Parliament, revealing the ruling BJP’s “anti-worker and anti-poor bias”.

Include all workers exposed to silica dust in anti-TB programme: Govt of India told

Counterview Desk
In a letter, sponsored by well-known civil rights organization, Occupational & Environmental Health Network of India and signed by more than 60 professionals and activists*, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India, has been told that Indian policy makers shouldn't just acknowledge higher TB risk to mine and stone crusher workers, but also “other silica-exposed workers”.

Universal healthcare? India lacks provisions to 'fight' non-communicable diseases

By Moin Qazi*
Universal health coverage (UHC) -- ensuring that all people receive proper and adequate health care without suffering financial hardship -- is an integral part of achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It enables countries to make the most of their strongest asset: human capital.

Why crib? 4.5% is far better than pre-1980 'Hindu rate of growth': Subramanian replies

By Rajiv Shah
Even as sticking to his original argument that India's gross domestic product (GDP) since 2011-12 has been overestimated by 2.5%, renowned economist Arvind Subramanian has said in a fresh paper that his estimate of post-2011-12 growth rate at around 4.5% is surely not "implausibly low", as some of his critics have been arguing following his controversial June paper.

RSS, Hindu Mahasabha were 'subservient' to British masters: Nagpur varsity VC told

Counterview Desk
Well-known political scientist Shamsul Islam, associate professor (retired), University of Delhi, in an open letter to the vice-chancellor of the Rashtrasant Tukadoji Maharaj Nagpur University, Dr Siddharthavinayaka P Kane, has taken strong exception to the varsity decision to include RSS’ “role” in nation building in the syllabus of the BA (history) course, citing instances to say that the RSS ever since its birth in 1925 with its Hindutva allies like Hindu Mahasabha led by VD Savarkar worked overtime to “betray the glorious anti-colonial freedom struggle”.

UP's Sonbhadra killing of 10 tribals highlights 'failure' to implement Forest Rights Act

Counterview Desk On July 17, as many as 10 people, including three women, were killed and 28 injured when a village head and his supporters opened fire on a group of tribal farmers in Ubha village of Sonbhadra district in Uttar Pradesh. While the firing took place following a clash between over a land ownership dispute, it reportedly highlights failure of officials enforce Forest Rights Acts (FRA) and Survey Settlement in favour of tribals.