Dalits Media Watch
News Updates 26.09.15
Upper Caste Men in Mysuru Refuse to Give Dalit Boy His Reward - The New Indian Express
The Times Of India
No quota for SC/ST/OBC in any single post, says SC - The Asian Age
Officials accused of damaging crops on the pretext of clearing encroachment - The Hindu
Clarify Stand on SC Quota in Appointments: NCSC to IIT-M - The New Indian Express
From Proxies To Politicians: Bihar's Female MLAs - The Wire
Note: Please find attachment for DMW Hindi (PDF)
Rape victim kills self
Abohar: The body of a Dalit girl aged 18 years was found on the outskirts of Bhukarka village near Hanumangarh on Monday evening. Her parents alleged that Subhash Chander of the same village had kidnapped her. They said the accused had been harassing her on her way to school. The post-mortem report has indicated that the girl was raped and consumed poisonous substance. — OC
The New Indian Express
Upper Caste Men in Mysuru Refuse to Give Dalit Boy His Reward
MYSURU: Upper caste men of Kuruburu Village in T Narasipur Taluk near here allegedly refused to give a dalit boy his reward for winning a competition organised in the village, on Thursday night.
It is also alleged that upper caste individuals assaulted the dalit boys who participated in the competition and allegedly showed disrespect to a portrait of Dr B R Ambedkar.
According to sources, the upper caste residents had put up a Ganesha pandal and had organised a gundu kallu (stone lifting) competition in the village for Gowri-Ganesha festival. They had also declared that the winner will get a cash award of `2,000. Dalit boys Narayan, Chinnaiah, Rangaiah, Puttaswamy and Mahesh took part in the contest, which Narayan won.
When Narayan claimed the cash prize, the men allegedly refused to hand it over. They also allegedly hit Narayan with sticks and chased him and the other boys till their locality. According to sources, the villagers even broke the drinking water pipes in the dalit area. T Narasipur police personell rushed to the spot and diffused the situation.
Cases for harassment of dalits have been slapped against 14 people —Jagadish, Prashanth, Swamy, Nagaraju, Bullimara, Shivu, Anil, Karthik, Guruswamy, Babu, Yogesh, Subbu and Shantha.
The Times Of India
The Asian Age
No quota for SC/ST/OBC in any single post, says SC
If there is only one post in a cadre, no reservation can be provided for SC/ST/OBC as such a quota will amount to 100 per cent reservation which is not permissible, the Supreme Court has held.
Giving this ruling, a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C. Pant said "until there is plurality of posts in a cadre, the question of reservation will not arise because any attempt of reservation by whatever means and even with the device of rotation of roster in a single post cadre is bound to create 100 per cent reservation of such post whenever such reservation is to be implemented."
Writing the judgement Justice Misra, however, said "if a singular post in the clerical cadre is there, it would be filled up by promotion from amongst the eligible candidates from the feeder cadre. Adopting such a method or taking such route does not remotely touch the idea of reservation".
In this case, the appellant Akhilesh Kumar Singh was appointment for the post of clerk by direct recruitment in Kisan Uchchatar Madhyamic Vidyalaya, Hidra, Kanwar, Uttar Pradesh.
The respondent Basti Ram, who was eligible for promotion to the clerk post, was not promoted on the ground that he belonged to reserved community. A single judge of Allahabad high court rejected Basti Ram's claim for promotion but a division bench allowed his appeal. The present appeal is by Akhilesh, who was a direct recruit.
Officials accused of damaging crops on the pretext of clearing encroachment
No notices issued before initiating action, say farmers
A section of Dalits at Mukunduru Hosahalli in Hassan taluk are up in arms against the taluk administration for allegedly damaging standing crops by digging trenches in the name of clearing encroachment of a road.
The residents allege that the taluk administration neither issued prior notices to them nor allowed the farmers to harvest the crop before bringing earthmovers.
Based on a complaint by a few Dalits in the village that an eight-feet road had been encroached upon by the "upper caste", the officials of Hassan taluk administration arrived at the village on August 5 with earthmovers and tree-cutting equipment.
The officials removed the fencing set up by a couple of "upper caste" people, but dug trenches on the adjacent plots, belonging to farmers of a Scheduled Caste.
Gundaiah and Chikkaiah, brothers, had been granted bagair hukum land in the village, where they had cultivated jowar and potato. As the earthmovers dug trenches on their land, the crops on that land were damaged, leaving both families worried.
About 20 fully-grown trees were cut in the name of clearing the road. "As per the official sketch, an eight-feet wide road was existing, adjacent to our land. If the administration had issued notices, we would have agreed to part with the land after harvesting the crop. But the officials came and dug trenches for the construction of a 30 ft road, without issuing notices to us," said Mr. Chikkaiah.
Mr. Chikkaiah claimed he had requested the officials not to cut trees and requested them to allow some time to harvest the crop.
"They pushed me down and damaged the crop. Moreover, we have records to show our ownership on the land," he said.
Members of fhese families are suspecting the role of a person, also a relative, in targeting their crop because of a panchayat election-related dispute.
Following a protest staged by the family members, E. Vijaya, Assistant Commissioner (Hassan), visited the village and issued notices to five officials, including Hassan tahsildar V. Manjunath.
When contacted over phone, Mr. Manjunath said the officials were not responsible for the damage caused to the crops or the cutting of trees.
"A section of people in the village had filed a complaint with the taluk-level SC-ST grievances committee alleging that a road had been encroached upon. Being the chairman of the committee, I ordered to clear the encroachment. We have not damaged the crops," he said.
The New Indian Express
Clarify Stand on SC Quota in Appointments: NCSC to IIT-M
CHENNAI:The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) has directed IIT-Madras to provide a reply to the commission based on a representation made by a Chennai resident regarding the non-implementation of scheduled caste reservation in the appointments at the institute.
The complainant, Dr E Muralidharan, has alleged that the institute does not follow the reservation policy as mandated by the Central government, which 'is a serious matter of grave concern' and has requested the NCSC to take severe action against the people involved in the discrimination and the atrocities. Muralidharan has also linked the non-compliance of the reservation policy in the appointment of staff at IIT-Madras to the de-recognition of the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle (APSC) earlier this year. Responding to this, the NCSC has directed IIT-Madras to provide a para-wise counter to the complaint within 15 days.
From Proxies To Politicians: Bihar's Female MLAs
Thirty five years ago, Bhagirathi Devi was a sweeper in the block development office in Narkatiyaganj, a town in Bihar's West Champaran district. Today, she is a third-term member of the legislative assembly (MLA) of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), representing the Ramnagar (formerly Shikarpur) constituency in northwestern Bihar, one of 34 female MLAs in the 243-member vidhan sabha.
A Mahadalit–as the Bihar government started calling the poorest of low-caste Dalits in 2007– Bhagirathi Devi joined politics as a reaction to what she saw around her.
"I was angry at the injustice and cruelty meted out to the poor, especially poor women, who came to the block development officer's office," said Bhagirathi Devi, 65. "Us din hum soch liye ki rajneeti mein jayenge aur babu logon ko sabak sikhayenge (That was the day I decided to enter politics and teach the officers a lesson)," she said.
Since 1980, when she quit her job as sweeper, Bhagirathi Devi spent the next several years creating mahila sangathans(women's groups) in Narkatiyaganj block, organising women and stirring awareness around issues that included domestic violence, violence against dalits and fair wages.
Gradually, she expanded her political activism to other blocks in the district, going to jail in 1991 for organising demonstrations. Bhagirathi Devi's decision to enter politics was not easy for a poor Mahadalit family with six children (her husband is a railway employee). It was particularly challenging to organise her household before she set off every day, travelling to nearby villages.
Her husband was doubtful. "Ghar dekhogi ki rajneeti karogi?" (Will you take care of the house or do politics?) he asked. She answered, as she recalled: "Ghar bhi dekhenge aur rajneeti bhi karenge" (I will take care of the house and do politics as well). Such was the strength of her conviction that Bhagirathi Devi separated from her husband for the next five years, taking him back only when he realised that there was no turning back for her.
It took a decade of grassroots organising before she entered party politics, and 10 more years before she got a BJP election ticket. Today, she is seen in the legislative assembly, the vidhan sabha, as an MLA who will not be easily silenced.
Bhagirathi Devi's political journey, while being one of grit and determination, is also a reminder of the difficult choices women politicians, especially from marginalised groups, have to make and yet be consigned to the margins of political landscape, always spoken of as "proxies" of a male relative. It is also a reminder of the restricted spaces for women in Bihar's–and India's–political parties, unless they are backed by political lineage.
Why Bihar's women MLAs are not proxies
Bhagirathi Devi represents, as IndiaSpend reported, a remarkable surge in female MLAs that otherwise backward Bihar has witnessed over the last decade. Yet, the question that is often asked is: "Are these women MLAs really empowered or are they proxies for powerful male relatives?"
The term 'proxy' was largely used for women in panchayats (village councils), put forward by male relatives to contest seats they had to vacate following the 33% reservation for women, announced in 1992 under the 73rd amendment of the constitution, or when the men became ineligible after criminal convictions. The term was further made infamous by Lalu Yadav, who installed his wife Rabri Devi as Bihar's chief minister after his imprisonment in a fodder scam. If proxies were defined as women put forward to contest elections because their male relatives had to step down, mostly due to criminal convictions, Bihar data now dispels this widely held myth.
Of Bihar's 34 female MLAs, only six have contested seats vacated by male relatives, usually husbands, according to data published on Myneta.in, a public-interest website run by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), an advocacy, that tracks political candidates nationwide. The majority, 82% of women MLAs, have won elections of their own merit.
Widow of Madhusudhan Singh, against whom many criminal cases have been filed
Wife of Vijay Kumar Shukla (Munna) arrested on criminal charges
Wife of two-time MLA Obaidullah Khan
Wife of ex-MLA Devendra Yadav, sentenced to life imprisonment
Poonam Devi Yadav
Wife of ex-MLA Ranvir
wife of ex-MLA Pradeep Joshi
Yet, the term 'proxy' is used for women MLAs with its undertones of gender and class bias.Media stories on female political candidates have often furthered this narrative.
The female proxies who shook off their proximity to men
Leshi Singh,an MLA from Dhamdaha in eastern Bihar and widow of Butan Singh (against whom many criminal cases have been filed), was called his proxy long after his death, while the well-educated, male politicians who stepped in after the death of their fathers are seen as carrying forth their legacy. Yet, for some women who enter politics sphere as 'proxies', it is an opportunity for political and personal advancement.
Bima Bharti, a JD(U) MLA from Rupauli in Purnia district in eastern Bihar, is a good example. She entered politics as an independent MLA in 2000, at the behest of her husband Avdhesh Singh Mandal, with pending criminal cases against him.
Barely literate, in 2010 she filed a criminal complaint against her husband for domestic violence. It led to his arrest, an uncommon occurrence in a state where politicians usually browbeat the police. Bharti went on to become a minister in the cabinet of chief minister Nitish Kumar.
Critics also assume that women with poor educational qualifications are almost always akin to puppets, with real power with male relatives. Like Bhagirathi Devi, a fifth-class pass, Jyothi Devi, the MLA representing Barachatti constitutency in Gaya district of Southern Bihar, disproved that assumption.
From Bihar's most backward community, the rat-catching Musahars – with literacy rates between 2% and 10%, according to this paper – Jyothi Devi has a long history of organising Musahar women and children, creating anganwadis (child care centres) and self-help groups. Yet, she is often spoken of as a relative of former chief minister Jitan Ram Manjhi, someone she must owe her political career to.
Some women are poorly educated but many are not
If educational qualifications alone were an indicator to empowerment, then female MLAs in Bihar vidhan sabha are not doing badly: As many as 32% of them have graduate degrees and above, while 41% have some form of formal school education. Five female MLAs have doctoral degrees. Of these, Prof. Sukhada Pandey (BJP) and Usha Sinha (Janata Dal-United), were former college principals.
Of the rest, 17% of female MLAs have declared themselves 'literate', a category that could range from being able to read and write to being home schooled or self-taught.
No of women MLAs
Percentage of women MLAs (%)
Graduates and above
Of 34 MLAs, three have been ministers at various times over the past five years: Leshi Singh, Bima Bharti and RanjuGeeta. Neeta Chowdhry of the JD(U) is the deputy chief whip of her party.
A battle that has only just been joined
"Hum toh zabardasti bolte hain. Hum na Lalu se darte hain na Nitish se. Vote janta deta hai. Bus hum sirf usi se darte hain (I insist on speaking. I am neither afraid of Lalu Yadav nor Nitish Kumar. I am only accountable to the electorate that elects me)" said Bhagirathi Devi, when asked about the space for women to speak and intervene in the assembly.
Women MLAs in Bihar appear to have restricted speaking time in the House. On International Women's Day, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had to intervene to ask the speaker to allow women members to be allowed to speak. Lalu Yadav had famously told Bhagirathi Devi in the House that she was "like his aunt", a polite way of asking her to shut up.
While some female MLAs are indeed fronts for male relatives, they are – as we noted – a minority. Dismissing the rest as proxies will not serve the cause of governance.
This story is the product of a collaboration between GenderinPolitics, a project that tracks women in politics and governance in India, and IndiaSpend. Bhanupriya Rao is a co-creator of GenderinPolitics. Additional research by Prachi Salve, IndiaSpend.
News monitored by AMRESH & AJEET