Bansal BSP’s Budhlada nominee

Our Correspondent

The Tribune

Mansa, December 4 Mr Kanshi Ram, BSP supremo, claimed today that his party would form the next government in Punjab, winning 60-70 seats in the forthcoming Punjab Vidhan Sabha elections.

He announced that Mr Mangat Ram Bansal will contest the Budhlada Assembly constituency as nominee of his party. Mr Kanshi Ram was addressing a largely attended public meeting at Boha town in the district.

He did not rule out the possibility of entering into a poll alliance with the Panthic Morcha. He said so far leaders of the Panthic Morcha had failed to demonstrate their political strength and their activities had remained confined to holding conferences at melas alone.

He, however, said in case of an alliance with the Panthic Morcha, seats would be allotted to the morcha “according to its strength”.

Mr Kanshi Ram said Mr Ravi Inder Singh, former Speaker of the Punjab Vidhan Sabha, would be the next Chief Minister of Punjab.

The BSP is the second party to announce its candidate after the Lok Bhalai Party which has announced the names of its candidates from the Mansa and Joga constituencies.

The Lok Bhalai Party President, Mr Balwant Singh Ramoowalia, during his last visit to the district, had announced the names of 18 candidates. Mr Ramoowalia had claimed that his party would form the next government in the state and “capture” Delhi within three years.

Mr Kanshi Ram flayed the controversial POTO and stated that his party was opposed to it. He supported the stand of the Opposition against the reinduction of Mr George Fernandes as Defence Minister and observed this should have been done only after he was cleared by the commission proving the Tehelka expose.

He said his party would focus on eradication of corruption, uplift of the downtrodden and providing a clean government. He announced that BSP rallies would be held at Khanna on December 8, Moga on December 23 and Bathinda on December 30.

Agarwal memorial lecture

Our Correspondent

The Tribune

Chandigarh, December 4

The destruction of the Buddha image at Bamiyan, Afganistan, (identified as Maitreya Buddha by scholars) by the Taliban, is just a single example of vandalism in an attempt to wipe out the traces of the spread of the Indian culture in Afganistan and Central Asia.

This was stated by Prof V.C. Srivastava, Director, Indian Institute of Advance Study, Shimla, at the Prof Jaganath Agarwal memorial lecture at Panjab University here today. Prof Srivastava threw fresh light on the basis of archaeological and art sources, on the socio-religious popularity of Indian faith in the region.

Speaking at the lecture, Prof Ashvini Agarwal, chairman of the Department of the Ancient Indian History, PU, pointed out that these lectures were essential for advancement of knowledge in the field and to create awareness about our cultural heritage.

Dalit Sena chief targets Sukh Ram

Our Correspondent

The Tribune

Mandi, December 4

The state Dalit Sena chief and former PWD Minister, Thakur Mahinder Singh, once a staunch supporter of HVC supremo Sukh Ram, made a frontal attack on him today in his stronghold Kotli in the Tungal valley alleging that the HVC supremo had been promoting his personal interests.

Thakur Mahinder Singh who is travelling in the constituency of Mr Sukh Ram on foot, addressed a number of corner meetings and told the people that during his tour the myth that there had been a lot of development in the constituency of the HVC leader had been exploded. He was shocked to see that many villages in constituencies were deprived of the basic amenities. He visited the Sadar constituency four times, but, Sukh Ram had not bothered to visit it even once, the former minister added.

He said Mr Sukh Ram used him to promote his personal interests. He betrayed me and preferred to make his son minister in a bargain with the Chief Minister forgetting that “I” stood with him in his bad days and was a senior legislator.

The former minister said the HVC supremo had been befooling people by declaring in public meetings that he was in favour of free power to be provided to people. Why he kept mum as an alliance partner in the government when rates of electricity were enhanced twice by the government. He should have resigned if he had been sincere, Thakur Mahinder Singh added.

Woman Paraded Naked For Playing Cupid

BELLARY (PTI): A dalit woman was paraded naked last week at Onenur village in Bellary district, Superintendent of Police Sharat Chandra said. Members of Valmiki community reportedly barged into the house of the victim, assaulted and paraded her naked in the village, apparently for instigating two lovers to elope.

A girl belonging to Valmiki community had eloped with a dalit boy last month. However, she later returned to the village and blamed the woman for instigating them to do so. All the eight persons, including three women who have been named in the complaint, has been arrested. Chandra said necessary protection had been given to the victim and a posse of policemen have been posted in the village.

Dumb girl accuses cop of rape

By Our Staff Reporter

The Hindu

KHAMMAM, DEC. 4. A dumb tribal girl was tortured and raped allegedly by a special party police constable in the Bodu police station on December 1. The incident came to light today as the victim approached the Superintendent of Police, Mr. K. Rajaratnam Naidu, and formally lodged a complaint with him. Police ordered an enquiry into the incident and sent the girl for medical examination in the Government hospital at Yellandu.

Police, who however denied the rape charge, admitted to have picked her up for interrogation three days ago as she was moving suspiciously near Kokirai village in Bodu police station limits. Some residents of the village also mistook her for a naxalite and alerted the police. The girl was a stranger to the village. Three constables arrived on the scene and took her to the Bodu police station in an autorickshaw.

The girl was questioned in the police station before being shifted to the custody of the Circle Inspector at Tekulapalli. ``Police beat her up without knowing that she cannot speak,'' said a senior officer. She was suspected to be a militant of the PWG on a specific mission. Bodu is one of the worst affected villages in Yellandu division, he added.

The CPI(ML New Democracy) district leaders, Mr. K. Ranga Reddy and Mr. P. Ranga Rao, made a representation to the SP seeking immediate action against the guilty constable. They said that the girl was on her way from the Kachanapalli area to her relatives house in Lakshmipuram village near Bodu.

They alleged that the she was detained in the Bodu police station and raped by one of the special party constables who picked her up for interrogation. The girl's parents were summoned by the sub-inspector late in the evening and silenced by holding out threats. The victim was handed over to them around 12 p.m.

The CPI(ML New Democracy) leaders took up the issue with the District Collector, Mr. A. Giridhar, and urged him for an impartial enquiry. The SP assured the parents of the victim that the guilty would be dealt with sternly if the charge of rape was proved. He said a case would be booked after receiving the enquiry report from the OSD (operations),Mr. V. C. Sajjanar.

Parties competing for Dalit votebank

M Hasan

(Lucknow, December 4)

The National

Dalit votes are up for grabs. So far considered to be strong bastion of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the rival parties now have launched concerted efforts in these segments to pull the rug from under the feet of BSP vice-president Mayawati in her own stronghold. They are, however, using a "decoy" to humble the BSP in its turf.

The BSP, in alliance with the Congress, had won 67 seats of the total 525 constituencies in the 1996 polls, but now it has decided to go it alone. UP now has 403 Assembly constituencies, after the state's bifurcation.

With new players in the field the tide appears to be tough for the BSP. Mayawati had a strong hold over the Dalit segment in the past, but now, apart from the BJP, the Congress and the SP are trying to make dent. Newly floated outfits such as the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP), RK Chaudhury-Barkhuram & Co and the All-India Confederation of SC/ST organisations headed by neo-convert Udit Raj alias Ramraj may also contribute to the woes of the BSP.

The BSP plans to contest all 403 seats and its stress may be largely on the 88 reserved constituencies. In the last Lok Sabha elections, the BSP had emerged number one in 80 assembly segments. Though Mayawati has claimed she will form the next government on her own strength, her whole electoral arithmetic seems to be revolving around Lok Sabha results. Moreover, the BSP has also been making efforts to field some Muslim and Brahmin candidates.

However, rivals, specially the LJP and the leaders ousted from the BSP, feel that the division in the Dalit votes could stop the repetition of the BSP's last performance. Union Minister Ram Vilas Paswan, heading the LJP, has been targeting Pasi voters who were strong supporters of the BSP. The recent rallies at Bijli Pasi Qila and in Lucknow were major exercise by the LJP.

Barkhuram Verma and RK Chaudhury have also been working in this direction. The Pasi factor could thus cause consternation in the BSP camp. But for the LJP there is one major drawback. It doesn't have any particular area of influence in the state. The LJP ministers were elected on BSP tickets and would now be facing major challenge in their constituencies. Largesse to the Dalits, including appointments under Group C by the Chief Minister Rajnath Singh is also aimed at wooing this segment.

The LJP is basically playing the BJP's game and it is for this reason it has asked for those seats where the BJP has hardly any stake. Similarly, minister Chaudhury Narendra Singh heading Kisan Mazdoor Bahujan Party and another bete noir of Mayawati, has also decided to field candidates against the BSP.

Dhamma Sar

Shri S. Krishna alias 'Anand', an I.R.S. Officer of 1986 batch created history when 1,00,000 (One Lakh) copies of his first book "Dhamma Sar" which he wrote for confederation were sold in retail on 4.11.2001 in a single day at one place.

Born in Sitapur District of U.P. , he graduated in Agricultural Sciences from C.S. Azadi University of Agriculture & Technology, Kanpur. He was awarded Junior Research Fellowship by Indian Council of Agricultural Research (ICAR), New Delhi for doing Masters Degree in Agricultural Economics. He wrote a thesis on Rural Credit by Regional Rural Banks.

A very voracious leader, he practiced meditation as Anand Marg, Reiki, Siddha Sammadhi Yoga, Kabir Panth, etc. He was introduced to Vipassana meditation in 1998 as taught by Gotam the Buddha. Since then he is a regular Vipassana meditator.

His latest book "Bhagwan Buddha: Dhamma Sar and Dhamma Charya" in Hindi is a unique work with information and original thought about the life of Buddha and his teachings. The author has made a deep research about Buddha and his teachings. The book contains a factual life history of Gotama the Buddha from his birth to his Mahaparinirvan in every simple and common language which even a layman can understand. It prescribes code of conduct for Buddhist followers in simple language. For a common man it is not possible to go through a plethora of scriptures in the form of "Tripitaks". The book contains an essence of Buddhism which even a layman can understand and follow. It contains chapters on life of Buddha, his famous followers, his known opponents, the law of dependent origination (prateeyasamupad), vipassana meditation, religious books, Buddhist festivals, places of pilgrimage for Buddhists, what should be life style of Buddhists, how various ceremonies should be performed etc. Thus the book will enable the followers of Dhamma to lead the life of Dhamma as taught by Gotama the Buddha. The book is a must for every seeker of truth as well as for laymen who want to know the truth about Buddha and his Dhamma.

We have already received purchase order for 10,000 copies. The book is available at the following addresses:-

i. 4/59, Esic Nagar, Andheri(W), ii. C-22, Income-tax Colony, Mumbai - 400 053. Peddar Road, Mumbai-400026 Phone:6304097 Phone:4921248

( Dinesh Raj Bhar )

In-Charge Publisher

The book was released by Sri Shashikant Datharkar at press club mumbai today. A large number of electronic as well as print media representative were present. All India radio telecasted the news at 8.20.p.m. bulletin today. The E-TV (Marathi Channel) will telecast the news at 7.a.m. tomorrow (date 6.12.2001). IN-Mumbai/IN-Time will telecast at 8.00a.m tomorrow and C- news will telecast at 9.30.p.m. tomorrow.

Has the Punjab Govt really empowered SCs?

Manoj Kumar

Tribune News Service

Ludhiana, December 5

Though the Punjab Government launched a publicity blitz to prove that it has empowered the scheduled castes, for about one-third of the state population, most of which is educationally, economically and socially backward, however, the facts speak otherwise.

Take the case of the Punjab Scheduled Castes Land Development and Finance Corporation (PSCLDFC), the nodal agency constituted to empower these communities. Its performance during the past three years belies the claims of the State Government pertaining to the improving the lot of SCs.

According to the Corporation officials here and at its head office, Chandigarh, the state government has not released adequate funds during the past four years. The result: Under the Central Government’s scheme to rehabilitate the scavengers in other professions, though 500 scavengers were identified by the corporation in the state, the number of beneficiaries is negligible. It has also failed to provide any loan or subsidy to the SC youths to set up ventures under the Bank tie-up or other schemes.

Sources say that the state government had promised to contribute Rs 9.80 crore to its share capital in 1999-00, Rs 4.90 crore in 2000-01, and Rs 4.90 crore during the 2001-02 budget, however, no funds were reportedly released during that period. Interestingly, in the absence of the state government’s contribution, the PSCLDFC failed to get about Rs 20 crore from the Central government under different schemes as part of the matching grants.

One of the senior officials, on the condition of anonymity, said, “The government has not provided any funds, kept under the special components plan, during the past three years. These funds have rather been diverted to other heads. The government has also failed to increase the share capital of the Corporation from Rs 30 crore to Rs 60 crore, promised under the budget.”

Criticising the role of the state government , Mr D.P. Khosla, state vice-president of the BSP, said, “The government should concentrate on economic empowerment of the youths of the Scheduled Castes, instead of false propaganda in the media. However, we have lost all hopes. The corporation has failed to fulfil any of its objectives,” he added.

Enquires with the district office revealed that out of the 81 scavengers identified in the city, only 2 persons were reportedly given loans. No person has succeeded to get any loan under the bank tie-up scheme, under which beneficiaries could get loans up to Rs 35,000 including Rs 6,000 subsidy to set up their ventures. The number of beneficiaries under the ‘Loans for Motor Vehicles Scheme,’ Animal Husbandry, and Economic Ventures Scheme is almost nil.

The morale of the corporation employees is very low as they fear that the corporation may be closed down any day. “We are just getting salaries out of our funds, though there is virtually no work. Only 39 loan cases have been processed during the current year, under direct loaning scheme. Other schemes are almost dead though the target was to help about 2400 families this year,” said another employee here. Consequently, in Ludhiana alone the SCs have been deprived of Rs 1.02 crore subsidy this year, he added.

Orissa woman ostracised for selling sex for survival

The Tribune

Thursday, December 6, 2001, Chandigarh, India

Hunger has ravaged her life over and over again. It pushed Nura Gahir’s family into debt, widowed her and even made her sell some of her five children. Now it has led her village in Orissa to ostracise her, turning a blind eye to the circumstances that led to her unwanted pregnancy.

Gahir of Barpan village in Bolangir district, about 430 km from the state capital Bhubaneswar, is eight months pregnant, carrying the child of a man she sold her body to so she could eat one square meal a day.

Gahir has been battling hunger since her husband Tulsi starved to death on December 29, 1996. She suddenly became the sole provider for five children — daughter Sanju (8) and sons Rohit (9), Gopal (7), Mithun (3) and Nanda (1).

“We had one acre of cultivable land, a house and a pair of bovines before my husband died,” Gahir, 33, told IANS. “But the drought and the crop failure crippled us financially. We were forced to mortgage our land for Rs. 1,500. After that my husband became a daily wage earner.”

But Tulsi couldn’t find a steady job and had to mortgage their home for Rs. 500. Their inability to repay the debt resulted in their land being seized.

Finally, Tulsi died of hunger. That’s when Gahir sold Rohit for Rs. 2,000 to a moneylender.

“I pleaded with the local administration for help,” Gahir recounts. “Initially they gave me a package comprising 10 kg of rice and some unstitched cloth. Later some officials visited us and gave some cash, but that did not last long.”

She told a House committee of the Orissa assembly how she sold Rohit, after which the state family welfare department and a non-government agency gave her Rs. 5,000 each. But Gahir claims her in-laws swindled the money.

“Finally I sold my two sons to some local landlords and sent the other two as contract labourers... I went to Raipur town in Madhya Pradesh with my (now) five-year-old child Nanda to earn a livelihood,” she says.

“I did not get any work. I was compelled to take to prostitution for one square meal. In that process I got pregnant again.” IANS

Emancipation of landless Dalits a farce: Report


Dec. 5, 2001

OGA:The tall claims of emancipation of poor Dalits by the Punjab government notwithstanding, a survey report released here by the Moga district unit of the Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union (PKMU) tells a different story.

The report is based on a survey of eight villages of the district, conducted by a five-member team of the PKMU. The villages surveyed were Bhagike, Himmatpura, Kaleke, Maddoke, Luhara, Jhandiana, Dhudike and Puranewala.

According to the report, while three Dalit families are homeless in Bhagike village, 44 families are residing in small houses unfit for human habitation. Eight families were allotted plots in 1972, but the possession of these plots has not been given to the allottees so far.

In Himmatpura village, according to the report, eight homeless families are living in a dharamshala, whereas 29 families are living in dilapidated small mud houses. Similar is the fate of 54 families of Kaleke village where no plot or house has been allotted to any family so far.

No Dalit family has its own plot or pucca house in Maddoke village, says the report. While some families are inhabiting over shamlat land, some others live in temporary structures provided by landlords.

The state of Dalits in Lohara, Jhandiana, Dhudike and Puranewala villages, surveyed by the PKMU, is no better.The report alleges that 1.5 acres of land was allotted to the landless Dalits of Dhudike village about 10 years back, but the panchayat, dominated by landlords, dispossessed them.

Releasing the report, PKMU president Randip Singh alleged that the government had initiated a false propaganda of emancipation of Dalits to gain political mileage ‘‘In fact, Dalits in villages are living in inhuman conditions," he said.

‘Dalits still ill-treated’


Dec. 6, 2001

HYDERABAD: "I am a Dalit and I face discrimination," said Vimal Thorat, an associate professor with the Indira Gandhi National Open University, while speaking to The Times of India here on Wednesday.

In Hyderabad to present a paper at the workshop on globalisation, Thorat narrated the ordeals she had to undergo because she was a Dalit. According to the professor, she and her husband had to vacate a day after moving into a house Maharashtra once the landlord came to know they were Dalits.

Having worked extensively with Dalit women, Thorat said it was extremely difficult for a Dalit woman to live without suffering humiliation. In many north Indian states, Dalits were forced to subscribe to the Varna system, she said.

Thorat said organisations such as the RSS, VHP and Bajrang Dal should be banned because their motto is to enforce the dictum that, "the lower castes should either live as written in the ‘Manusmriti’ or they should be killed."

Caste and social structure

By Satish Deshpande

AS A social group, the Indian intelligentsia has always been embarrassed by caste. This embarrassment runs much deeper than any uneasiness about unearned privilege that an overwhelmingly upper-caste group might be expected to feel. For, though it is similarly privileged in class terms - hardly can any of its members claim to be poor - the intelligentsia is not in the least embarrassed by poverty. Thus, rational discussion and debate on poverty has not only been legitimate, it has been almost an obsession. In sharp contrast, the thinking classes preferred not to discuss caste inequality, and were curiously defensive when forced to deal with it. With rare exceptions, intellectuals in Nehruvian India firmly believed that Gandhi, Ambedkar, and the Constitution had effected a permanent settlement of the caste question.

This powerful consensus was built on the liberal upper-caste belief that, as a shameful relic of our past, caste needed to be erased from our present. The need to atone for past inequities was reluctantly accepted, but the dominant classes were determined to confine this distressing deviation from the (Western) ideal of equal individual citizenship within the lakshman rekha of the two Schedules created by the British in 1935 and included verbatim in our Constitution. Beyond this boundary, caste was taboo. As a result, the secular state refused to collect data on caste (except for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes), although it continued to do so for religion and language. Indeed, this refusal was not seen as a refusal but as the self-evident sequel to the legal abolition of caste. The innocent optimism of the post-Independence years obscured the fact that only the upper castes could afford the desire to forget about caste: for the overwhelming majority, memories and experiences of caste subordination became a potent source of social identity and political mobilisation.

When this Nehruvian naivete was finally shattered by the Mandal conflict of 1990-91, acrimonious debates on the status of the Other Backward Classes (OBCs) broke out, but they were conducted in a data vacuum.Most social scientists (including sociologists, who ought to have known better) were not only deriding the methodology of existing data sources (such as the Mandal Commission report) without offering alternatives, but were also opposing other proposals for the collection of caste data (as mooted before the 2001 Census).

Given this rather eventful background, the National Sample Survey Organisation is to be congratulated for having made a landmark contribution to the cause of social analysis by producing, for the first time in independent India, detailed nationwide data on the OBCs. Until now, data on this scale have only been available for the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes, or by religion. This has meant that the vast majority of the population has remained opaque to analysis, being lumped together as ``Others'' (i.e., neither Scheduled Tribes nor Scheduled Castes) when caste data is presented, or as ``Hindus'' when religion is the criterion. The recently published data - in NSSO Report no. 469, employment and unemployment situation among social groups in India 1999-2000, based on the 55th Round survey - provide a more disaggregated picture of the social structure in contemporary India.

This report suggests that the OBCs form about 37 per cent of the rural, and about 31 per cent of the urban population. Like other caste and community data in the NSSO, the OBC data are also self-reported, i.e., it is based solely on the response of the head of the household surveyed without reference to any official criteria. These are very plausible numbers, but since the NSSO estimates of the Scheduled Tribes and the Scheduled Castes have generally been 2-3 per cent higher than those made in the Census, it is probable there is a small upward bias here as well. They should also prompt some rethinking from those who assured us (before the 2001 Census) that collecting caste data on a large scale was impossible, and if attempted would lead to widespread unrest and yield unusable data.

However, the main significance of the 55th Round data is that they allow rational debate on a question that has generally been prejudged by both the sides: whether, and to what extent, are the OBCs really ``backward''. Neither proponents nor opponents have bothered with evidence.

The monthly percapita consumption expenditure (MPCE) data from the 55th Round allow us to do this. They provide an overview of the internal class structure of all the major caste groups: Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, OBCs and the problematic residual category of ``Others'', which clubs Hindu ``forward'' castes with non-Hindus. This data shows that: (a) the OBCs are generally positioned between the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes and the ``Others''; but (b) they seem to resemble the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes more than the ``Others''; although (c) this resemblance is much closer in urban than in rural India, and at the upper end of the class spectrum than at the lower end.

In rural India, 34 per cent of the OBCs fall below the poverty line compared to 51 per cent of Scheduled Tribes and 43 per cent of Scheduled Castes but only 24 per cent of ``Others''. This places them in the middle of the gap separating the Scheduled Castes from the ``Others''. However, only 6 per cent of the OBCs are in the top two MPCE classes in rural India, a figure much closer to the 3 per cent for both the Scheduled Tribes and the Scheduled Castes than to the 12 per cent for the ``Others''. In urban India, the resemblance of the OBCs to the STs and SCs is more pronounced, and it holds at both ends of the class spectrum. Roughly 43 per cent of both Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are below the urban poverty line compared to 36 per cent of the OBCs and only 21 per cent of the ``Others''. At the other end, 6 per cent of the Scheduled Tribes, 2 per cent of the Scheduled Castes, and less than 4 per cent of the OBCs are to be found in the top two urban MPCE classes compared to 12 per cent of the ``Others''.

The land ownership data in the 55th Round survey paint a broadly similar picture. The OBCs are ahead of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes but lag behind the ``Others'', and this lag increases with holding size. Seven per cent of the ``Others'' are found in the largest size-class (above 4 hectares) compared to 4 per cent of OBCs, 3 per cent of Scheduled Tribes and 1 per cent of Scheduled Castes. The same is true of education: 37 per cent of rural male OBCs are illiterate compared to 48 per cent of Scheduled Castes, 52 per cent of Scheduled Tribes but only 24 per cent of the ``Others''; and among urban males, 23 per cent of the ``Others'' have graduate or higher degrees compared to 9 per cent of OBCs, 6 per cent of Scheduled Castes, and interestingly, 11 per cent of Scheduled Tribes.

Such broad-brush comparisons are, of course, subject to many caveats. The most crucial of these concern the hold-all category, ``Others'', which understates inter-group inequality by mixing up the most privileged groups - the upper castes among Christians, Sikhs and especially Hindus - with underprivileged groups such as the Muslims.

THE INTERNAL class composition of caste groups (discussed earlier) tells us only half the story about the Indian social structure - we also need to consider the caste composition of class groups. This can be done by mapping the NSSO's 55th Round data on to the 1991 Census population figures (since all the relevant data are not yet available from the 2001 Census). This exercise tells us that in rural India, the caste composition of the below the poverty line population (BPL) is as follows: Scheduled Tribes 16 per cent, Scheduled Castes 27 per cent, Other Backward Classes 37 per cent and ``Others'' 21 per cent, while that of the top two MPCE classes is: 4 per cent Scheduled Tribes, 10 per cent Scheduled Castes, 33 per cent OBCs, and 53 per cent ``Others''. These figures need to be evaluated against the caste composition of the rural population as a whole, and such a comparison tells us that the Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes are over-represented in the BPL population (by a factor of 1.5 and 1.2 respectively), and under-represented in the top two MPCE classes (by factors of 0.4 and 0.5 respectively). The opposite is true of the ``Others'', who are under-represented in the BPL population (0.7) and over-represented among the top two classes (1.7). The most interesting finding, though, is that the OBCs are neither over-represented nor under- represented in any segment of the class spectrum - they are present in all classes roughly in proportion to their share of the rural population.

A similar analysis for urban India indicates a wider gulf between the ``Others'' and all other caste groups. Thus, the ratios of share in specific class groupings to the share in the total urban population are as follows: In the BPL population, the Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes and OBCs are all over-represented by factors of 1.4, 1.5 and 1.2 respectively, while the ``Others'' are under-represented at 0.7. And among the top two MPCE classes, the reverse is true, with the Scheduled Tribes (0.7), and especially the Scheduled Castes (0.3) and OBCs (0.5) being significantly under-represented, while the ``Others'' are over- represented by a factor of 1.6. In other words, the ``Others'' form as much as 78 per cent of the top two classes, though they are only 50 per cent of the urban population; the other half of urban India is restricted to the remaining 22 per cent, of which the OBCs account for 15 per cent.

Looking at the land ownership data from the 55th Round, we find that the ``Others'' comprise 50 per cent of all households owning more than 4 hectares of land, while the OBCs are 35 per cent, Scheduled Castes 6 per cent and Scheduled Tribes 8 per cent. Although this does not tell us how much land is owned by each group, it does suggest that popular stereotypes about the OBCs having ousted the upper castes from land ownership may be somewhat exaggerated.

These are rough comparisons and there are many gaps and silences in the data. The most important of these is the omnibus category of the ``Others''. Although the 55th Round has taken a giant leap forward by separating the OBCs from this category, it still does not allow us to disengage the forward caste Hindus from other religious communities. And because the NSSO does not provide cross-tabulations among categories (that is, data on persons belonging to more than one group, such as Muslim OBCs or Christian Scheduled Tribes and so on), it is not possible, strictly speaking, to use the data on religious communities (published separately by the NSSO) for this purpose. It is to be hoped that the NSSO will build on the seminal contributions of the 55th Round and address these problems, because caste inequality is too important an issue to be wished away. For example, rough estimates - without the benefit of cross-tabulations - seem to suggest that Scheduled Tribes, Scheduled Castes, OBCs and Muslims may together account for around 90 per cent of the population below the poverty line in both rural and urban India. If true, this is of immense significance for policy and deserves detailed investigation.

It is equally important, on the other hand, not to read too much into statistics. As is well known, ``Other Backward Classes'' is itself an invented term for a residual collection of castes that is difficult to define. Yesterday's inventions are often today's realities, but they are also changing realities, and it is crucial to track these changes. As the 55th Round data shows, the OBCs are a unique group in rural India because they form a sizeable plurality (one third or more) all along the class continuum from top to bottom. (By contrast, the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes are very thin at the upper end of the economic spectrum, while the ``Others'' are thin at the bottom end.) While this explains why the OBCs are seen as a pivotal group in rural (and by extension, national) politics, it also underlines the fact that they are a group with considerable internal differentiation.

Incidentally, this is one stereotype that seems to be quite true - rural OBCs do appear to be a very diverse group. Therefore, it is quite likely (though not certain) that those OBCs who occupy the top rungs of the rural class spectrum actually have very little in common with those at the bottom except the label. Indeed, the NSSO data prefigures precisely the processes at work in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere that are encouraging the emergence of distinct sub-groups such as the ``Most Backward Castes''. However, in urban India - the seat of true privilege - the OBCs are a relatively under-differentiated and underprivileged group.

The State-level data and especially the inter-State and inter- regional variations are interesting and would repay careful analysis. Amid the variations, one striking feature that remains constant in all the major States is the pre-eminence of the ``Others'' category, which by most criteria is clearly ahead of all the other caste groups though the extent of the lead varies. Contrary to the inflated rhetoric of the anti-Mandal backlash, the OBCs are not overtaking the upper castes - not even in the rural areas where they are undoubtedly a force to reckon with, and certainly not in urban India. Tamil Nadu is a good example: in a State numerically dominated by the OBCs and with a long history of reservations, the ``Others'' are way ahead in terms of the index of over/under- representation in the top two MPCE classes: 2.6 compared to 1.2 for the OBCs in the rural sector, and a whopping 3.1 (possibly the highest index among all major States) compared to 0.6 in the urban sector.

Although we have no earlier data for comparison, it is reasonable to suppose that the ascendance of the ``Others'' was even more comprehensive in the past. Indeed, this may be why the (predominantly upper-caste) middle classes love to hate the OBCs - because, unlike the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, they have the numbers and may be acquiring the resources to make a dent in the monopoly over privilege that the upper castes have enjoyed hitherto.

In sum, the NSSO's 55th Round data offers a vital point of departure for a reasoned debate on social inequality in contemporary India, and what can and ought to be done about it. But there is still a long way to go and much to be learnt, especially about the privileged upper castes who have been travelling incognito in our statistical system. Until the day it ceases to influence life-chances, we will need more, not less, data on caste. For we must measure and monitor - not censor - what we wish to transcend.

Women Face Bullets In Bihar's Land War


The Telegraph

Darbhanga, Dec. 5:

An assistant public prosecutor of Patna High Court has been accused of ordering his private army to fire on a group of Dalit women, killing one and injuring seven.

The murky chapter in Bihar’s endemic land wars has an unusual footnote. The absconding landlord is not from the upper castes, the usual suspects, but a backward class family from the “creamy layer”.

The women from the bataidar (sharecropper) families met with a hail of bullets on November 27 as they set out to harvest paddy on the 55-acre plot they have been cultivating for the last 22 years.

The firing has triggered a furore that is raging even after a week. A group of women activists led by Brinda Karat, general secretary of the All-India Democratic Women’s Organisation, visited the area yesterday and held a protest rally.

Today, they called on chief minister Rabri Devi, who ordered a high-level probe and directed the police to submit a report immediately. Karat condemned the incident as an “attempt to crush women’s movements in the Dalit colony”.

The main accused in the case, Ravi Bhagat, allegedly opposed sowing of the plot by the Dalit families to whom his father had given share-cropping rights more than two decades ago.

He claimed to have registered a case with the district land registration officer, Darbhanga, asking for a stay on cultivation till the dispute was resolved. But the bataidars refused to oblige him.

They sowed rice this year, too, and amid alleged threats from the landlords to set the fields on fire, the women of the sharecropper families had gone to reap the paddy around 8.30 am last Tuesday.

They were allegedly confronted by the landlord’s musclemen, who were armed with .12-bore rifles. When the women refused to disperse, they opened fire, killing Kusuma Devi, 50, on the spot and injuring seven, who are in hospital.

“The women had gone to the field as most of their menfolk are migrant labourers and were away in Punjab,” said Vijaykant Thakur, a CPM leader in Darbhanga.

He alleged that the police failed to act on time even though the local women activists of his party had tipped off the force about the possibility of violence. He said the firing had reopened the old wounds of social acrimony between the backwards and Dalits.

Darbhanga superintendent of police Sudhansu Kumar said one person was arrested and added that though Bhagat was named in the FIR, it was yet to be established whether he was present on the field during the mayhem.

“The dispute is at least 20 years old and the incident has exacerbated the social tension in the area,” he said.

“This is a village of brave women who have been at the forefront of progressive movements while their husbands were away in other states.” Karat said.

Her colleagues alleged that the women of the 75-family Dalit colony in Andhari village were being terrorised to thwart their attempts to be on their own.

Cong plans caste-based rallies in UP

Saroj Nagi

(New Delhi, December 5)


When you can't fight them, join them. The Congress seems ready to follow this homily. Still trying to find its feet in Uttar Pradesh's socially and politically fragmented polity, the party has decided to hold caste-based rallies in the Hindi heartland to win back its erstwhile voters who had shifted loyalties to other parties over the years. While focussing on the need for "parivartan" (change) in UP, the party has chalked out about seventeen rallies each for Dalits, Backwards and Minorities for the third phase of the month-long intensive campaign that gets underway in mid-December. Although many of these would overlap, kisan rallies and meetings specially addressed to students and youths are also part of the programme that is being drawn up for the next few weeks.

These rallies will take place, among other areas in Agra, Pilibhit and Kanpur (Dalits), Aligarh, Moradabad and Balrampur (Minorities), Azamgarh, Mau (Backwards) and Badaun, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur and Chanduali (Kisans). In fact, the first of these public meetings will get under way in Agra on December 13.

The party may have denounced forces which compromise with religion and caste-based politics, but its own caste-based rallies are being seen as part of the Congress' overall objective to reach out to different social segments in the run-up to the February Assembly polls. An indication of this came when the High Command sought to tone up the UPCC and draft the state election and campaign committee by trying to accommodate different social, regional and pressure groups in the organisation.

‘Cong govt has neglected Valmiki community’

DH News Service


Several leaders who participated in the Maharishi Valmiki Jayanthotsava held at Jagalur opined that the Congress party ruling in the State had neglected the Nayaka community.

Even though the population of the Nayaka community is 60 lakh, there are only six legislators to represent them. None of the six have been made ministers. By not doing so the Congress government has neglected the community, they opined.

MLC K Mallappa after inaugurating the utsav said that the BJP government, which has come to power at the Centre by using Lord Rama’s name should celebrate Maharishi Valmiki Jayanthotsava and declare the day as a general holiday.

He appreciated the efforts of the Nayaka community in establishing their own math to uplift their people. The community members should educate their children, he suggested.

Litterateur B L Venu said that Valmiki, Ambedkar and Basavanna were world leaders and their anniversary should be celebrated in more meaningful ways.

Lok Sabha member G Mallikarjunappa announced that Rs 2 lakh as grant would be given for construction of a community bhavan. Similarly, MLA G H Ashwath Reddy also announced that Rs 2 lakh would be given as grant from his MLA funds for construction of the bhavan. Former MLA M Basappa presided over the meet. Valimiki Math Pontiff Punyananda Puri graced the occasion. Bharamasagar MLA M Chandrappa, D Borappa, zilla panchayat member Ajappa and others participated in the celebrations.

Saffron Rethink On Jaya, BSP


New Delhi, Dec. 5:

With Jayalalithaa affirming her party’s support to the Prevention of Terrorism Ordinance and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) still equivocal on its stand, a debate has started within the BJP on the viability of reviving an alliance with the two parties.

BJP sources said a rethink on the ADMK and BSP was triggered by a projection of the post-poll scenario in Uttar Pradesh and its effect on the government.

Contrary to the perception within the BJP a few months ago that the NDA government would remain unaffected even if Uttar Pradesh went out of its hands, there is diffidence now.

“The signals from the NDA are mixed. On the one hand, the Janata parivar parties are all set to reunite obviously to increase their bargaining power. On the other, we have constituents like the Telugu Desam Party and the DMK which raise the secularism bogey from time to time. It could come in handy if they feel the central government is not stable in the event of a defeat in UP to pull out support,” sources said.

Akali leaders to join morcha: Rode

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 5

The Panthic Morcha today claimed that some senior Akali leaders would join hands with it at its December 9 Ludhiana rally. The rally would also be addressed by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) supremo Kanshi Ram.

Addressing a press conference here today, the morcha convener, Baba Sarbjit Singh Bedi, and former Akal Takht Jathedar Bhai Jasbir Singh Rode said efforts were also being made to reach an understanding with former SGPC chief Jagdev Singh Talwandi.

Both leaders said the morcha would also field its candidates on some seats in Uttarancal and UP in the forthcoming Assembly elections in these states. Mr Rode said the December 9 rally would be a historic event as it would change the political equations in the state. He also indicated that the morcha would put up its candidates on all 117 assembly seats in Punjab.

Meanwhile, the morcha’s local unit organised a meeting at the gurdwara at Gur Teg Bahahur Nagar here. The meeting, which was held to take stock of the situation regarding the December 9 rally, was attended by senior morcha leaders like Mr Anoop Singh Minhas, Mr Sarbjit Bariana and Mr Joga Singh Mao Sahib.

Kainth to hold rally on Dec 8

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 6

To bring some former top BSP leaders and those who are dissatisfied with the working of BSP supremo Kanshi Ram on one platform, Bahujan Samaj Morcha leader Satnam Singh Kainth is organising a “massive rally” on December 8 at Partap Bagh here.

Mr Kainth, a former MP who had opted out of the BSP owing to some differences with Mr Kanshi Ram, is thus planning to host a “show of strength” in the Doaba region, where Mr Kanshi Ram and his party has a considerably base among Dalits. Some former BSP leaders are expected to participate in the rally.

“Dalit leaders from all states who were among the founding brigade of the BSP and those who disagree with the way of working of Mr Kanshi Ram will be seen in rally, which will be a turning point in the Dalit politics,” said Mr Kainth while talking to TNS here. He said, among others, the rally would be addressed by Mr R.K. Chaudhary, a sitting MLA from UP, Mr Barkhu Ram Verma, also a sitting MLA and former speaker of the UP Assembly, Mr G.B. Pushkar, MLA, Mr Manohar Atte, former general secretary of the BSP, and Mr Bhojtaru, a former general secretary of the Andhra Pradesh unit of the BSP.

Cong, BSP men enter verbal duel

Tribune News Service

Jalandhar, December 6

Workers and leaders of the Congress and the BSP entered into a verbal duel at the local Ambedkar Chowk, where they had organised separate functions to observe the “norman divas” of Dr B.R. Ambedkar.

Trouble started when a group of Congress workers, led by Mr Jagjit Singh Chaudhary, the leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, bedecked the enclosure of the statue of Dr Ambedkar with small flags.

This was objected to by the BSP workers led by Mr pawan Tinu, a former president of the district unit of the BSP and Mr Sukhbir Singh Shalimar, another BSP leaders, who maintained that the Congress leaders had no right to observe the day as they were not following the policies of Dr Ambedkar in the true sense.

'Need' to record history of native people

By Our Staff Reporter VISAKHAPATNAM, DEC. 6. While there is a raging controversy over the deletion of some portions from history textbooks with the BJP-led NDA Government bent on incorporating the Hindu way of life as mentioned in the epics, the Government and the Opposition once again were glossing over the necessity to record the original and native socio-cultural history of people who lived in India before various conquerors invaded it, Mr. Katti Padma Rao, AP Dalit Mahasabha secretary, said here on Wednesday.

Speaking to mediapersons, he said that the textbooks were formulated with imperialist impact rather than restoring the culture and language of the native land. While religion was being given prominence, the concept of brotherhood was not given due importance. "None objects to mentioning Indian culture but narrating it from religious point of view is unwelcome".

He said that epics and history were different. While epics were religious stories and beliefs of a community, history was a record of facts with evidence in the form of `shasanas', tools, coins and written language to substantiate it. "What Dr. Murli Manohar Joshi, Union HRD Minister, is attempting to do is to infuse textbooks with Hindu imperialism through epics."

Another glaring lacuna in the present education system, he said, was that while education in other countries aimed at teaching an individual how to lead life, here the objective was securing a job. Any education system should primarily teach history of one's land and how to live life.

Mr. Padma Rao regretted that even existing textbooks based on works of historians like Romila Thapar, Bipin Chandra, Khosambi and R.S. Sharma had little drawn from the original Indian literary sources and materials. While there were civilizations even before 3500 BC, the textbooks mentioned that Indus Valley civilization and Harappa and Mohenjodaro culture existed even before the Vedic age. "Aryans had come to India as conquerors. Now BJP wants to change this concept by deleting some portions from the textbooks," he alleged.

In ancient India, script (lipi) emerged much later and therefore the communities which had access to written word first had dominated Indian communities. Citing an example, he said that Buddhism originated in India as the first religion with enormous literature, but it was never translated into Indian languages though it was recorded even in the Chinese language. Resourceable literature started in the Buddhist period but that period was distinctly missing from our textbooks which mentioned only conquerors.

Similarly literature on Jainism had established the relationship between man and nature but "our textbooks miss that also". The materialism expounded by Charuvaka, Lokayutulu and the subsequent Sankhya philosophy which gave `Anu-vadam' (atomic theory) also had no mention in the textbooks. It was translated worldwide but not into Indian languages. "As literature is not available, we are kept in dark about the native Indian culture and its aborigines".

Even while recording modern history, prominence had been given to Mahatma Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru and not to Mahatma Pule, Narayana Guru and Ambedkar who propagated an alternative movement. As a result they were not understood, he said.

Referring to Telugu State, he said there was so much history before the Sathavahana period which was never recorded. Buddhism was more popular in Telugu land and the literature was being followed in 200 countries but it was not established "in our land".

The Andhras remained backward in digging history unlike Tamils, he said. "Our sense of history is poor unlike Tamils'. Regional languages like Tamil, Malayalam and Kannada are used even for official business, but in Telugu land one depends only on English. The State Government too for its part remains apathetic to establishing Telugu history and culture nor does it have a constructive programme to revive Telugu Kalarupas like Burrakatha and Harikatha which are fading away."

The Dalit leader criticised the Chandrababu Naidu Government for "withdrawing scholarships and doing away with hostel facility to SC students". By corporatising Intermediate education and professional courses, he had confined the SCs to arts courses, he said.

Surplus lands for Dalits urged

Vijayawada, Dec. 6: The State executive committee of Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Karmika Sangham demanded that the State government distribute surplus lands to the landless agricultural labourers.

Briefing on the meeting held on Thursday, Sangham State president Jalli Wilson said the committee urged the government to adopt the ‘Land to the tiller’ policy.

He said the government’s favourite programme Janma Bhoomi was not solving the problems of the agricultural labourers as the Chief Minister was using it for his own publicity. He called upon the agricultural labourers to grill the officials at Janma Bhoomi programmes demanding surplus lands.

He said lakhs of acres of government lands were in the hands of landlords and nobody was daring to retrieve them.

Ridiculing the government programme against caste discrimination and untouchability, he said the landlords humiliated thosee who participated in the community meals programme with the Chief Minister.

He said the committee expressed concern over the increasing attacks and atrocities on Scheduled Castes and Tribes. He said the government did not take action in a single case out of the 96 cases of attacks on Dalits in West Godavari district.

He said the cops molested a woman in Khammam district and two tribal women were killed in Chintalapudi in West Godavari district. He said there was no sincerity in the government in taking stringent action on those resorting to atrocities on the Dalits and weaker sections.

Referring to Justice Punnaiah Commission, he said though the commission recommended to the government to give judicial powers to the SC and ST Commission, the government ignored it.

Alleging that the Telugu Desam leaders were misusing the Food for Work scheme, he said the politicians turned out to be contractors and committing irregularities.

Address the Dalit ferment

By Swami Agnivesh and Rev Valson Thampu Those who care for the Vedic faith today have no option but to heed the cry of the Dalits and do all they can to make this universal household of faith hospitable to them.

To be mute witnesses to the continued perpetuation of injustice and oppression in the name of Hinduism, committing the crime of complicity with this crude and chronic aberration, does no good to anyone. It is a frontal insult to the glory of the Vedic tradition.

Laughable attempts have been made to invent a Vedic basis for the legitimacy of the caste system. This is a blasphemous joke. Caste is, clearly and emphatically, a post-Vedic invention. The spirit of division and domination animates it; and not the spirit of universal brotherhood.

The task of reform today cannot afford to fall short of creating an egalitarian society founded on the equal worth of all human beings and their right to equality in all aspects of public life.

It is not in the interest of the dynamism and future of this country, as Swami Dayanand argued, to keep even a single member of our society paralysed in the cast of the caste system. At any rate, the unfolding logic of history would not countenance this prehistoric mechanism any longer.

Our credibility both as a democratic polity and spiritually informed society is at stake here. It is the regressive conspiracy to perpetuate the indefensible birth-based privileges of the Hindu upper caste that squanders the integrity of this country in defending the caste system.

Why do Dalits convert to an alternate faith? Abandoning the religious fold within which one grew up is the most agonising and difficult decision a human being can make. The metaphors used in describing the experience of conversion are exactly that of death and new life.

In conversion, a person dies to his old identity and is born again to a radically different identity and way of life. The fact that Dalits are increasingly resorting to the conversion route to escape from their hurt and humiliation within the Hindu fold is a heartbreaking statement on how cynical they have become of any improvement in this sphere.

In this, you can’t blame them; they have waited long enough, hoping against hope. But they continue to be blighted by the twin curses of poverty and caste. These two reinforce each other, creating a limbo of human degradation.

The just way to respond to the challenge posed by the current subaltern ferment is to address these basic issues with all the seriousness and urgency they demand.

The perpetuation of the upper caste hegemony rested so far on the fragmentation and the political self-alienation of the Dalits constituency.

Within such an arrangement, political parties have managed till recently to hold on to their Dalit vote bank through tokenisms of various kinds, such as reservation and the ornamental accommodation of Dalit aspirants in party hierarchies, the unfortunate Bangaru Laxman and the late Rajesh Pilot being two such examples.

Every political party milks the Dalit constituency for its own profit, but none wants to bring justice to it. In this respect even the icons of Dalit aspiration like Mayawati, Mulayam and Laloo Yadav have done precious little for the Dalits.

That is because their mission has been focussed on acquiring the seat of power. Laloo must be indicted not so much for the mystery of vanishing fodder but for the gross neglect of the Dalits in Bihar.

The fact that so many Dalits have responded to the mission of Udit Raj in such a short span of time shows how frustrated the rank and file among the Dalits are with their political leaders and how suffocated they are within the caste system.

Mass conversion to Buddhism, or any other faith, if it grows into a torrent of anti-caste protests, can have immense political implications in the days ahead. The social grievance and political consciousness of the Dalits have so far failed to peak because of their shadowy existence on the periphery of the Hindu society.

As they acquire a new and different identity, they could become immune to the current mass mobilisation technique of the Sangh Parivar: The activation of some evocative Hindu symbol or issue like the Ram mandir.

The psychology of conversion is that converts have a deep inward need to despise and abjure the religious fold they vacate. None admires a religion more zealously than its new convert.

The measure by which he admires the acquired faith is also the measure by which he despises the faith he abandons. It is this prospect that makes the custodians of the caste system nervous about the unprecedented motivation among the Dalits to acquire an alternate identity.

The Sangh Parivar has chosen to take on this subaltern ferment in outright antagonism. Presuming on a partisan political dispensation they hope to ram the brakes on this ominous movement.

But bottlenecks cannot endure forever. Nor can the Parivar bluster freeze the Dalit ferment for too long. It will only serve to provoke its own nemesis and sharpen the battle-lines of conflicting interests. This is contrary to the genius of our spiritual and philosophical tradition that has advocated, from time immemorial, the need for integration and higher harmony.

The alternative to the option for harmony is the strategy of disruption, the like of which was on full display in Delhi on November 4. This can only keep the social cyclone temporarily away from the shore of caste interests. Elemental cyclone grows more and more fierce the more it stays over the sea.

It gains in gale-speed and kicks up tidal waves that rise, ransack everything in its path. The alternative to reform is degeneration, which is slow suicide.

We cannot withhold justice from the Dalits any further. The need of the hour is a repentant return to the egalitarian vision of the Vedas that recognises neither Hindus nor Dalits, but only the human family. All are equally members of this great and noble species.

A nation that continues to treat over 30 crore human beings worse than animals cannot hold its head high on the stage of human civilisation. The stature of India must be measured, Gandhiji would have insisted, by the dignity and development of the least among the Dalits.

It is in the Dalit constituency that the soul of Bharat yearns to wake up. We need to rejoice that a significant subaltern ferment is now under way in our society. Rather than suppress it as a religious threat, it needs to be received as an invitation to reform and regenerate our society so as to regain our dignity and dynamism as a dharmic nation.

Haryana’s bonanza for SC students

Our Correspondent

Yamunanagar, December 6

Haryana Chief Minister Om Prakash Chautala today announced a bonanza of incentives for members belonging to Scheduled Castes, which included a Rs 11 crore scheme for students and another ambitious scheme to give financial assistance for self-employment. The state government had already spent Rs 115 crore on various other schemes for the socio-economic uplift of the community.

The Chief Minister, who speaking at a state-level function organised by the Dr B.R. Ambedkar Charitable Society here to mark the death anniversary of Ambedkar, said the new “food for work programme” would be launched in the state from this month and each worker paid Rs 38 in cash and wheat worth Rs 42 per day. Village ponds would be dug up to ensure adequate water for the cattle under this programme.

He said four ministers had been asked to work out the modalities to implement the Rs 11 crore scheme for poor students belonging to the Scheduled Castes. While referring to the self-employment scheme, he said the government was considering giving a grant as part of assistance. They could take up ventures like workshops to repair televisions, auto repair shops, photography, beauty parlours and carpentry.

Assuring assistance to members belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Backward Classes, he said 17,600 persons had already been benefited under various schemes during the past 28 months.

Paying tributes to Dr Ambedkar, the Chief Minister pointed out “this great son of the nation gave the right to vote to fellow countrymen, irrespective of their social or economic states”.

He said the best tribute to him would be to root out social evils.

Earlier, the Minister of State for Health, Dr M.L. Ranga, said Dr Ambedkar was in favour of reservation for 10 years only.

He thanked the Chief Minister for the efforts made by him to get the Bill on reservation in promotions passed in Parliament. He said that it would be introduced in Haryana as well.

Other who spoke were member of Parliament Faquir Chand, Minister of State for Social Welfare Risal Singh, chairman of Dr B.R. Ambedkar Charitable Society P.R. Chaudhary, convener of the function Balwant Singh, (MLA) and Mr Banta Ram, Mr Amar Singh and Mr Ramesh Khatak, all MLAs, the Chairman, Haryana Dairy Development Federation, Mr Akram Khan, and the Chairman, Haryana School

Ambedkar anniversary: AMC prepared this time

Express News Service

Ahmedabad, December 5: THE ruling Congress in the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation is leaving no stone unturned for December 6, the death anniversary of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Last year, there was a near revolt in the Congress party which had just sworn into power at the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation when Dalit councillors and leaders took serious exception to the fact that the statue of Dr Ambedkar had not been washed and cleaned on the day of his death anniversary.

To begin with, the Standing Committee which met last Thursday passed a proposal asking the administrative wing to ensure that a ‘mandap’ was set up around the statue and a ladder was put up close to it so that people could garland the statue.

The standing committee also asked the administrative wing to wash the statue, clean up the surrounding and provide drinking water and other facilities to people who visit the statue on Thursday.

The proposal was moved by Congress councillors Jayantilal Parmar and Ramanbhai Patel.

‘‘Last year, Dalits had been angered as they felt it was an insult to Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

This year, I specially moved a proposal so that no such complications take place,’’ Parmar said. He added that he visited the statue on Tuesday and preparations were satisfactory.

While most of the councillors expressed anger over non-cleaning of the statue last year and demanded strict action against responsible officials, a section of municipal councillors also openly came out against the Congress leadership for not ensuring that the statue was washed and cleaned before December 6.

Following this, disgruntled Congress councillors even held a series of meetings in an attempt to change the leadership in the AMC.

Ambedkar statue to make its way to AP

Express News Service

Mumbai, December 06: ANY visitor who enters well-known sculptor Vinay Wagh’s studio on Marine Drive is likely to be enamoured by the huge life-like statues of freedom fighters like Mahatma Gandhi, Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Annie Besant. Fighting for space among these statues, right in the middle of the room, is the eight-and-a-half foot statue of Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Standing upright, with a determined smile on his face, the Ambedkar statue is all ready to be sent to Karimnagar in Andhra Pradesh, where it will be installed.

On the 45th death anniversary of Dr Ambedkar, Wagh reminisces about the first Dr Ambedkar statue that was sculpted by his grandfather in 1959, and installed near Regal cinema. That statue was a unique one, Wagh points out because ‘‘it is not in the common parliamentary position (pointing his finger in a direction), but as if a teacher is delivering a lecture.’’ Since 1959, innumerable statues of Dr Ambedkar have been created by the Wagh studio. ‘‘Over 1000 statues in the last 40 years for different assignments,’’ Vinay Wagh says matter-of-factly.

Although most statues in this 101-year-old studio are made on subjects who posed for the sculptor, this was not the case with Dr Ambedkar. Wagh relates what happened on the day Dr Ambedkar was expected to pose for the senior Wagh. ‘‘He had come to the studio, but all of a sudden it started raining and at that time he used to teach. He left in a hurry, and after that, it never materialised,’’ he says. In a profession where detailing is important, Wagh says he collects all the information possible from colleagues and friends of the person concerned. In this statue, Wagh incorporated Dr Ambedkar’s expression, his broad forehead, and also went to the trouble of getting the shoes that he wore at the time ‘‘so that the statue is perfect.’’ Wagh is also quick to point out, ‘‘Notice the folded trouser. This was the style in those days.’’

SC/ST conventions to create awareness

DH News Service


The Congress is committed to implementing schemes for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and shortly four SC/ST conventions will be held to create awareness on the welfare programmes being implemented by the State government, Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee President Allum Veerabhadrappa said here today.

Speaking at a function organised by the KPCC SC/ST Cell to observe the 45th death anniversary of Dr B R Ambedkar, he pointed out that the State government had chalked out a number of welfare programmes for the SCs/STs. “However, the benefits of these schemes have not reached the deserving persons due to lack of awareness about the programmes. Hence, conventions of the SCs/STs will be held in four towns and cities of the State shortly to make them aware of the welfare schemes,” he added.

Mr Veerabhadrappa said the Congress gave top priority for the uplift of the SC/STs, and therefore supported them in various sectors. “We are also committed to providing political reservation to them. For instance, in the Bangalore Mahanagara Palike elections, we reserved 18 of the 100 seats for SC/ST candidates though they are entitled for 13 only. The Congress will continue to support the cause of SC/ST,” he said. Recalling Dr Ambedkar’s contribution to the nation, Mr Veerabhadrappa said Dr Ambedkar stood up against social ills and fought for socio-political rights of the Dalits. “If not for Ambedkar, the imbalance in society would have continued. If all communities develop, it will contribute to the over-all growth of the nation. Dr Ambedkar has shown the right direction for this, and we have to follow it,” he said.

Ambedkar drew from the Geeta to fight untouchability

THE SENTINEL,Guwahti,Friday,December 7,2001

G.C. Senapati

Dr Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar is generally known by what he was not. He was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth nor did he inherit a birth right to drink water from public tank, to read and write, to move about unrestricted, to pay homage to gods and goddesses in temples, to have his head tonsured by a barber, to work in public and private establishments. There was no place where he did not face humiliation.

Worst still was the fate of his fellow untouchables. They were forced to eat carrion, to wear garments of dead bodies not above the waists and below the knees, to hang earthen pots at their necks to spit in, to tie ropes around their waists for drawing the leafy boughs for erasing the foot prints to rear only the dogs and the donkeys, to deck their necks with ornaments made of animal bones and iron, to speak a certain kind of foul dialect, to have their ears bolted with malted lead and to have tongues chopped off on charges of hearing and reciting the vedic slokas respectively. In fact untouchables in his time were denied the human rights by religious injuctions enjoined by the saints and sages of this ancient and civilized country.

True to the preamble of the holy Geeta, Ambedkar was commanded by Lord Krishna to purge Hinduism of its stigma — the untouchability and to beacon his fellowmen in tracking down the right path. It is said that Bhim was born of a boon from his hermit relative. On 14th April 1891, a son was born to Subedar Major Ramji and Bhimabai at Mhow in Central Province (MP) in a Mahar caste. Growing in object poverty and living in a one-roomed house, Bhim bagged the highest degrees in the world famous Universities ranging from MA, MSc, PhD, D.Sc in Economics and Bar-at Law besides LLD.

But in spite of being endowed with the vast treasure of knowledge of Economics, Political Science, Social Science, Sastras et al, he was despised by the Hindus in the same manner as was done to Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa by the British officials. From his childhood up to the days of the membership of the Executive Council, he was suffering from the onslaught of galling humiliation. So he vowed firmly either to annihilate the caste-system or to leave Hinduism. In his Caste in India (1916), he has dealt elaborately the origin and the operation of castes in the Hindu affairs of life. In the book he examines, inter alia, the caste theories of Senart, Nesfield, Risley and Dr Ketkar and defines that "Caste in an enclosed class and it existed even before Manu" and "endogamy is the only characteristic that is peculiar to caste." and also that "the superposition of endogamy on exogamy means the creation of caste." and so "surplus men" and "surplus women" had to be kept within the caste ambit.

In his Annihilation of Caste (1936), Dr Ambedkar said that "there was no Hindu consciousness. In every Hindu, the consciousness that exists was the consciousness of the caste. He further asserted that the caste-system prevents common activities and by preventing it, has prevented the Hindus from becoming a society with unified life and a consciousness of its own being" and the worst feature of the caste system was "anti-socialism" and that "so long as castes remain, Hinduism cannot be made missionary religion". Mahatma Gandhi reacted sharply on the attacks of Hinduism and so he retorted in the Harijan July 18, 1936 refuting the charges by justifying the necessity of the Chaturbarna.

Ambedkar criticised Gandhi for advocating the pursuance of one's father's profession and asked Gandhiji as to why instead of following his father's footsteps, as a bania (Trader), he had entered into the vortex of politics to become half-politician and half-fakir.

Dr Ambedkar is called a modern Manu. But he is an antithesis of Manu. If Manu gave a Hindu code with no liberty of woman, with no share of property for them, Ambedkar in his Hindu code bills made provisions for equality of woman in all respects. Justice Gajendragodkar said; "If Dr Ambedkar gives us Hindu code, his achievement would go down in history as a very eloquent piece of poetic justice indeed". If Manu codified the graded untouchability to preserve Hinduism, Ambedkar demolished it as an anti-national element. If Manu and his clientele reserved the state posts and national wealth up to the Vaishy Varna, Ambedkar reserved posts for those who have been harsly hamstrung by history.

Dr Ambedkar firmly believes (1) that the caste has ruined the Hindus, (2) that the reorganization of the Hindu society on the basis of Chatur barna is impossible unless the principles of liberty, fraternity, and equality are sanctified, (3) that the sanctity behind the caste and barna must be destroyed by discarding the devine authority of the Shastras.

Emphasizing the true-spirit of religion, Ambedkar declared that "religion is for man and not man for religion". As such, he suggested to reform Hinduism thus (1) Hereditary priesthood should be abolished. There must be a state examination for priesthood, (2) Without a sanad, no body should be allowed to officiate as a priest, (4) A priest should be, like a civil servant, the servant of the state, (5) The number of priests should be limited by law and, (6) There should be one and only standard book of Hindu religion.

Refuting the charges of beef eating habit of a section of untouchables, Ambedkar in his The Untouchables (1948) mentions with special reference to the Vedic and sutras that all the Hindus up to the beginning of the Gupta period loved to eat beef. He cited Kanes version thus: "It was not that the cow was not sacred in Vedic times, it was because of her sacredness and it is ordained in the Vajnasaneji Smrity that beef should be eaten". Further, one of the ingredients of Madhuparka was the meat of a cow. The killing of cow for the guest had grown to such an extent that the guest came to be called Go-gnha which means the killer of the cow". Apastamba Dharma Sutra has given a detailed account of beef eating process, portions and preferential allotments. Moreover Yajnavalkya said: "I, for one eat it, provided what it is tender."

An iconoclast as he was called, he consigned the Manusmrity to the flames. "Truly the goddess of Nemesis averged the wrong and the Manusmrity gave place to Bhimasmrity. He was, dubbed as a stormy petral for stream rolling the weather-beaten path towards a new definition of Hinduism. Ambedkar's intention of attacking the evils of Hinduism is to bring about a revolutionary change on it, but he was greatly mistaken and so he along with million followers embraced Buddhism on 14th October 1956 that radiates the fraternity, liberty, equality and non-violence particularly when he got green signal from Mahatma Gandhi who said: "I don't mind the untouchables being converted to Islam or Christianity" followed by the warning of Gobin B Pant that "either they were Hindus and enjoyed the privileges under Poona Pact or they ceased to be Hindus and forfeited them."

The fix star, after a life's fitful work in shapping the destiny of his country and freeing millions of untouchables from the fretters of caste system began to sink in the horizon. On December 6th 1956, Dr Babasaheb Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, one of the six brains, "fountain head of wisdom and knowledge, the jewel of the Nehru Cabinet, the finest flower of the twentieth century" left silently for his nirvana exactly after 1 month 22 days of his conversion to Buddhism leaving behind grateful millions to pay homage on his 45th nirvana ceremony


Tributes To B R Ambedkar

NEW DELHI, DEC. 6- President K R Narayanan, Vice-President Krishan Kant, Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Congress president Sonia Gandhi and leaders belonging to various political parties today offered floral tributes to B R Ambedkar on his 45th death anniversary.

They paid homage at the statue of Ambedkar in the lawns of Parliament House complex.

Former Prime Ministers V P Singh and H D Deve Gowda, Union Ministers L K Advani, Satyanarayan Jatiya and T R Balu, Rajya Sabha deputy chairperson Najma Heptulla and Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker P M Sayeed were among other leaders who paid respects to the architect to Indian Constitution.

The Rediff Special/ Shobha Warrier

I died when the Taleban destroyed the Buddha

December 7, 2001

"I stood at a distance, awe-struck, as I looked at the imposing figure of the Buddha. Till then I had never seen such a sculpture. This was 30 years ago, but that image is still etched in my mind. It will remain with me forever. When the Taleban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas, I died too. Now only my body remains."

Wiping the tears that seem to flow continuously from his eyes, 78-year-old T N Padmanabhan says simply, "These are tears of blood."

Though it is a couple of months since the two majestic Buddhas in Bamiyan, Afghanistan, were destroyed by the Taleban, Padmanabhan still cannot talk about it without choking up. After all, 30 years ago, he was the one who was given the task of restoring the ancient statues.

Today, the verandah of his house is a sculptor's workshop; one can see several small images of Bamiyan Buddha there. His house is filled with sculptures. Even at this age, what gives Padmanabhan happiness is chiselling Buddhas.

Call it coincidence or fate, but Padmanabhan was first fascinated by the Bamiyan Buddhas when, as a college student, he saw their pictures in The Illustrated Weekly of India. He was so fascinated that he stared at the photographs for hours, little realising that one day he would be deputed to restore those very figures.

"At that time," he says, "I wondered how they could carve such a fine figure on rock. It was only when I went there as a project modeller that I realised it was scooped out of clay."

Seeing the real Bamiyan Buddhas was the happiest moment of his life. "It was a dream come true. If the Bamiyan Buddhas were in India, they would have attracted more tourists than even the Taj Mahal."

Padmanabhan's love for Buddha sculptures increased manifold after he became a curator for the Archaeological Survey of India. During the course of his work, he visited several Buddhism-related places like Nalanda, Gaya, Sarnath, Pataliputra and Amaravati to restore Buddha and Mahavir statues.

In 1972, even as an ASI team under Dr Rakhaldas Sengupta worked on a nine-year conservation project in Bamiyan, UNESCO [the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation] requested for a representative to repair the Buddha statues. Padmanabhan, then working in the ASI museum in Calcutta, was nominated.

"I had to walk two or three furlongs to reach the statues. I still cannot forget those gigantic images. I stood some 400 or 500 feet away and just stared at them, for the sight was both amazing and intimidating. Mentally, I bowed to the sculptors who had created these magnificent images; it takes great artistic talent to carve such massive figures.

"How would you feel if you stood near a 50-foot image? You feel so small! And the taller of the two statues was nearly 150 feet. What I noticed first was the Buddha's knee, which was at ground level. The legs were embedded deep inside the soil. Since I am both an artist and a sculptor, I immediately noticed the disproportionate figure. The Buddha looked like a dwarf to me. My very next thought was to flee back to India; restoring the figures seemed to me an impossible task. Soon, though, that moment passed; now, all I wanted was to recreate the magic without wasting any time."

He discovered that the curls that had covered the top of the Buddha's head had been chopped off; the top of the statue had become a flat place. So flat, in fact, that on festival days 20-25 people would sit there for a feast. The head of the Buddha had become a dining table for the local people!

The first thing Padmanabhan did was go to the top of the larger statue; the measurements he took convinced him the original figure was as high as 175 feet. When he shared his discovery with the sultan of Bamiyan, he too was astounded and unhesitatingly offered all help. Today, Padmanabhan is all praise for the sultan. He believes he would not have been able to complete his work but for the sultan's encouragement.

Since nearly 35 feet of the statue was buried under soil, Padmanabhan knew he would need labourers to help him with the excavation work. But the sultan could not fulfil his request for workers.

"I asked him, do you have a jail here? The question took him by surprise. I asked him to send me some prisoners whom I could use as labourers; I assured him I would take care of them. When he agreed, I personally went to the prison and selected 150 people. I even invited their families to the site. They were there with me for six months, in the open. Nobody ran away, nobody gave me any trouble and, most importantly, all of them worked exceedingly well."

Once the workers reached the place, he erected a trial pit around the statue and started excavating the legs and feet of the Buddha. The sultan used to visit the place often and the moment the legs became visible, he was so excited he wrote to all the departments in India praising Padmanabhan.

The feet of the Buddha were 13 feet long; the fully excavated statue stood 175 ft! And as they continued digging, they found two new caves.

As there was no place for Padmanabhan to stay in the village, he put up a tent near the statue and stayed there despite the biting cold. A vegetarian, he had gone there well-equipped with adequate supplies of dal, rice, etc. He would cook his own food. Only the rotis came from Bamiyan village.

He even remembers the three baby birds nesting in a hole in the statue and the sultan's specific request about not harming them. Till the last day, Padmanabhan postponed working on the area occupied by the birds. He could not, though, avoid working close to them and was pleasantly surprised by how the mother seemed to trust him; she never tried to peck at or claw him.

"All those who watched me work were surprised. Usually the mother bird was very harsh towards anyone who went near the nest. Whenever a worker brought clay for me, she would try to attack him. In fact, she once pecked a worker so hard that she actually gouged flesh from his head. But she never attacked or even threatened me. I told everyone that since I was sincerely restoring Buddha's statue, he would save me."

And Buddha, he says, saved him more than once. On the last day, he fell nearly 100 feet from one of the scaffoldings. Fortunately he suffered hardly any injuries. He simply got up and climbed back!

"I am sure it was the Buddha who rescued me," he says.

It took six months for Padmanabhan to finish the restoration work. During that time, he did not visit India even once. "When I take up an assignment, I want to do it honestly. I will come back only after the work is done."

In those six months, he restored more than 50 pieces in and around Bamiyan village. All these statues are now believed to have been destroyed by the Taleban.

"When I heard the Taleban were going to destroy the Bamiyan Buddhas, I called ASI's Delhi office and requested the director general to do something. He told me he was helpless; he couldn't help me or save those priceless statues. I was weeping when I talked to him. I couldn't eat for days.

"You might have heard of a mother dying of sorrow when her daughter dies, or a wife dying when her husband passes away. I too will die soon because the Buddhas I had restored with so much love and passion have been destroyed completely by some lunatics. But even at this old age, I am willing to go and repair them because the images are still in front of me."

Homage to Ambedkar

NEW DELHI, DEC. 6. The nation today paid homage to the architect of the Indian Constitution, Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, on his 45th death anniversary.

The President, Mr. K.R. Narayanan, the Vice-President, Mr. Krishan Kant, the Prime Minister, Mr. Atal Behari Vajpayee, and leaders belonging to various political parties offered floral tributes at the statue of Dr. Ambedkar in the lawns of parliament house complex.

Thousands of people from various parts of Maharashtra and the rest of the country converged at 'Chaitya Bhoomi' in Dadar, central Mumbai, to pay homage to the social reformer and Dalit leader. Mr. Vajpayee inaugurated a website on Dr. Ambedkar containing the writings, speeches, voice recording and photographs of the late leader. - PTI

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Published on: December 12, 2001
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