Archive for the ‘Dalits / Aborigines’ Category

Pity the Brahmins

January 18, 2008

A signal achievement of the Indian elite in recent years has been to take caste, give it a fresh coat of paint, and repackage it as a struggle for equality.

The agitations in the All-India Institute of Medical Sciences and other such institutions were fine examples of this. Casteism is no longer in defensive denial the way it once was. (”Oh, caste? That was 50 years ago, now it barely exists.”) Today, it asserts that caste is killing the nation–but its victims are the upper castes. And the villains are the lower orders who crowd them out of the seats and jobs long held by those with merit in their genes.

This allows for a happy situation. You can practise casteism of a visceral kind–and feel noble about it. You are, after all, standing up for equal rights, calling for a caste-free society. Truth and justice are on your side. More importantly, so are the media.

Remember how the AIIMS agitation was covered?

(more…)

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Behind the ‘hindu growth rate’ of Gujarat, ‘wombs for rent’

January 5, 2008

ANAND: Every night in this quiet western Indian city, 15 pregnant women prepare for sleep in the spacious house they share, ascending the stairs in a procession of ballooned bellies, to bedrooms that become a landscape of soft hills.

A team of maids, cooks and doctors looks after the women, whose pregnancies would be unusual anywhere else but are common here. The young mothers of Anand, a place famous for its milk, are pregnant with the children of infertile couples from around the world.

The small clinic at Kaival Hospital matches infertile couples with local women, cares for the women during pregnancy and delivery, and counsels them afterward. Anand’s surrogate mothers, pioneers in the growing field of outsourced pregnancies, have given birth to roughly 40 babies.

More than 50 women in this city are now pregnant with the children of couples from the United States, Taiwan, Britain and beyond. The women earn more than many would make in 15 years. But the program raises a host of uncomfortable questions that touch on morals and modern science, exploitation and globalization, and that most natural of desires: to have a family.

Dr. Nayna Patel, the woman behind Anand’s baby boom, defends her work as meaningful for everyone involved.

“There is this one woman who desperately needs a baby and cannot have her own child without the help of a surrogate. And at the other end there is this woman who badly wants to help her (own) family,” Patel said. “If this female wants to help the other one … why not allow that? … It’s not for any bad cause. They’re helping one another to have a new life in this world.”

Experts say commercial surrogacy _ or what has been called “wombs for rent” _ is growing in India. While no reliable numbers track such pregnancies nationwide, doctors work with surrogates in virtually every major city. The women are impregnated in-vitro with the egg and sperm of couples unable to conceive on their own.

Commercial surrogacy has been legal in India since 2002, as it is in many other countries, including the United States. But India is the leader in making it a viable industry rather than a rare fertility treatment. Experts say it could take off for the same reasons outsourcing in other industries has been successful: a wide labor pool working for relatively low rates.

Critics say the couples are exploiting poor women in India _ a country with an alarmingly high maternal death rate _ by hiring them at a cut-rate cost to undergo the hardship, pain and risks of labor.

“It raises the factor of baby farms in developing countries,” said Dr. John Lantos of the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Missouri. “It comes down to questions of voluntariness and risk.”

Patel’s surrogates are aware of the risks because they’ve watched others go through them. Many of the mothers know one another, or are even related. Three sisters have all borne strangers’ children, and their sister-in-law is pregnant with a second surrogate baby. Nearly half the babies have been born to foreign couples while the rest have gone to Indians.

Ritu Sodhi, a furniture importer from Los Angeles who was born in India, spent US$200,000 (euro138,910) trying to get pregnant through in-vitro fertilization, and was considering spending another US$80,000 (euro55,563) to hire a surrogate mother in the United States.

“We were so desperate,” she said. “It was emotionally and financially exhausting.”

Then, on the Internet, Sodhi found Patel’s clinic. After spending about US$20,000 (euro13,890) _ more than many couples because it took the surrogate mother several cycles to conceive _ Sodhi and her husband are now back home with their 4-month-old baby, Neel. They plan to return to Anand for a second child.

“Even if it cost $1 million (euro690,000), the joy that they had delivered to me is so much more than any money that I have given them,” said Sodhi. “They’re godsends to deliver something so special.”

Patel’s center is believed to be unique in offering one-stop service. Other clinics may request that the couple bring in their own surrogate, often a family member or friend, and some place classified ads. But in Anand the couple just provides the egg and sperm and the clinic does the rest, drawing from a waiting list of tested and ready surrogates.

Young women are flocking to the clinic to sign up for the list. Suman Dodia, a pregnant, baby-faced 26-year-old, said she will buy a house with the US$4,500 (euro3,125) she receives from the British couple whose child she’s carrying. It would have taken her 15 years to earn that on her maid’s monthly salary of US$25 (euro17).

Dodia’s own three children were delivered at home and she said she never visited a doctor during those pregnancies.

“It’s very different with medicine,” Dodia said, resting her hands on her hugely pregnant belly. “I’m being more careful now than I was with my own pregnancy.”

Patel said she carefully chooses which couples to help and which women to hire as surrogates. She only accepts couples with serious fertility issues, like survivors of uterine cancer. The surrogate mothers have to be between 18 and 45, have at least one child of their own, and be in good medical shape.

Like some fertility reality show, a rotating cast of surrogate mothers live together in a home rented by the clinic and overseen by a former surrogate mother. They receive their children and husbands as visitors during the day, when they’re not busy with English or computer classes.

“They feel like my family,” said Rubina Mandul, 32, the surrogate house’s den mother. “The first 10 days are hard, but then they don’t want to go home.”

Mandul, who has two sons of her own, gave birth to a child for an American couple in February. She said she misses the baby, but she stays in touch with the parents over the Internet. A photo of the American couple with the child hangs over the sofa.

“They need a baby more than me,” she said. The surrogate mothers and the parents sign a contract that promises the couple will cover all medical expenses in addition to the woman’s payment, and the surrogate mother will hand over the baby after birth. The couples fly to Anand for the in-vitro fertilization and again for the birth. Most couples end up paying the clinic less than US$10,000 (euro6,945) for the entire procedure, including fertilization, the fee to the mother and medical expenses.

Counseling is a major part of the process and Patel tells the women to think of the pregnancy as “someone’s child comes to stay at your place for nine months.”

Kailas Gheewala, 25, said she doesn’t think of the pregnancy as her own.

“The fetus is theirs, so I’m not sad to give it back,” said Gheewala, who plans to save the US$6,250 (euro4,340) she’s earning for her two daughters’ education. “The child will go to the U.S. and lead a better life and I’ll be happy.”

Patel said none of the surrogate mothers has had especially difficult births or serious medical problems, but risks are inescapable.

“We have to be very careful,” she said. “We overdo all the health investigations. We do not take any chances.”

Health experts expect to see more Indian commercial surrogacy programs in coming years. Dr. Indira Hinduja, a prominent fertility specialist who was behind India’s first test-tube baby two decades ago, receives several surrogacy inquiries a month from couples overseas.

“People are accepting it,” said Hinduja. “Earlier they used to be ashamed but now they are becoming more broadminded.”

But if commercial surrogacy keeps growing, some fear it could change from a medical necessity for infertile women to a convenience for the rich.

“You can picture the wealthy couples of the West deciding that pregnancy is just not worth the trouble anymore and the whole industry will be farmed out,” said Lantos.

Or, Lantos said, competition among clinics could lead to compromised safety measures and “the clinic across the street offers it for 20 percent less and one in Bangladesh undercuts that and pretty soon conditions get bad.”

The industry is not regulated by the government. Health officials have issued nonbinding ethical guidelines and called for legislation to protect the surrogates and the children.

For now, the surrogate mothers in Anand seem as pleased with the arrangement as the new parents.

“I know this isn’t mine,” said Jagrudi Sharma, 34, pointing to her belly. “But I’m giving happiness to another couple. And it’s great for me.”

Economic Times

An open letter to Malaysian Indians

December 6, 2007

A family mourning death of a child on the street in Triplicane area in Chennai. The family is homeless, the live on the sidewalk. There were heavy rains for several days, it was relatively cold, the child got serious fever and died soon © Maciej Dakowicz www.flickr.comTo begin with, this picture is not from Malaysia. It is from Chennai, the capital city of southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu. According to flickr, this photo is part of their most interesting 50 sets. It says a lot about the pain, and struggle of Dalit community in India, above all in Tamil Nadu.

Died the night before: A family mourning death of a child on the street in Triplicane area in Chennai. The family is homeless, the live on the sidewalk. There were heavy rains for several days, it was relatively cold, the child got serious fever and died soon. You can see it @ flickr.com © Maciej Dakowicz.

I stand against any discrimination of any human being in any parts of the world. But when it comes to HINDRAF outrage in Malaysia there are some questions one should ask to Hindu Rights Action Force officials. As an Indian, I believe ethnic Indians in Malaysia; still enjoy more rights than Indian citizens who is living in their own country. Since the living standards of Malaysia are far higher than India, I also agree that Hindus in Malaysia need a better deal. As a community with migrant history, majority of Malaysian Indians are Hindus while it also include a minuscule of Muslim, Christian and Sikh presence. The so called “Indian” heritage in Malaysia cannot be limited with Hindu minority in Malaysia.

Unlike Malaysia, discrimination against Indian citizens in India has a multitude of factors. One is the religion and the other is caste factor.

In India, religious discrimination is worst against Muslims followed by Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, and Jainism. The traces of Hindu caste system can be visible among India’s minority communities too. Due to Hindutva’s burgeoning alliance with Zionism, Jews are not attacked or either they are helped to migrate to their dreamland, Israel. Hindutva patriots will never question patriotism of Indian Jews. In 2005, Business Week reported that India became Israel’s largest importer of weapons, accounting for about half of the $3.6 billion worth of weapons exported by the Jewish state.

But in terms of Caste discrimination, it totally alienate lower caste Hindus, Dalits and Tribal or aborigines, who together contribute the largest segment of Hindu religion. Caste system is a part of a Hindu belief that people inherit their stations in life based on the sins and good deeds of past lives.

For the past 60 years the higher caste Hindu elite, effectively ruling this nation under the false cover of democratically elected government. Since majority of Indians are illiterate, it is easy to manipulate their votes offering food kits, liquor, subsidies, and even free Television!

Crime-politics nexus also influences the democracy in India. Most of the ministers in elected democratic governments are from criminal background. They are entering into the political arena, influencing the decision-making at the highest level in their own favor and thereby increasing corruption through patron-client relationship. The reason for this pervasive political corruption, in spite of six decades of democracy, is because we, in India, do not elect representatives but patrons. The rich and the avaricious as well as the poor and the stricken, vote on this principle. Lack of transparency within the bureaucracy is also another important factor responsible for promoting public corruption.

Any attempts from the state to introduce an affirmative action plan to help the down trodden of India, primarily defeated by upper caste student agitations in the campus. In a country where more than 92 % children cannot progress beyond secondary school, a support base for the backward communities in campus is beyond imagination. Furthermore, Indian judiciary is loaded with upper caste judges and they will spoils any affirmative action of the state by restricting reservation quota.

On the other hand, India contributed about $14.5 billion to the US economy through the expenditure on tuition and living expenses by sending the students to US. As a country, it dominated with one in seven (14.4 percent) of the total of 582,984 international students. [The Open Doors 2007, US Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Report] In the same period, Australia earned about 500 million Australian dollars from the export of educational services to India. Please note that Government of India’s spending on education is lesser than one-fifth of its defense budget!

The dominant group of Hindu nationalists come from the three upper castes ( Brahmins, Kshatriyas, and Vaishyas ) that constitute only 10 per cent of the total Indian population. But, they claim perhaps 80 % of the jobs in the new economy, in sectors such as software, biotechnology, and hotel management. Thus, Hindutva storm troopers promote enormous blogs, web campaigns and forums to control the media to implement their own political will. India’s fake super power status is also something created by this elite group of Hindu caste who don’t want to care the alienated Hindu classes and minorities.

Let us begin with the educational statistics from Tamil Nadu State itself.

Out of 427 faculties available in Chennai IITs (Tamil Nadu) 400 are from Brahmin caste and only 4 of them are Dalit. Every year, Government of India spend a whopping amount of $ 2000 million for the expenses of IITs (Bombay, Delhi, Gawhati, Kanpur, Kharaghpur, and Madras). But, Indian IITs function as a free educational institute dedicated to the upper class Hindus. Even though IITs are proclaimed as institutions with national importance, 96% of the IIT graduates usually migrate to west or find a job with a multinational corporate company.

According to the Indian census of 2001, the total population was 1.028 billion. Hindus numbered 827 million or 80.5 %. About 25 per cent (24 million) of those Hindus are belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes. About 40 per cent (400 million) are “Other Backward Castes”.Even though, 15 per cent are belonging to Hindu upper castes, they inherited civil service, economy and active politics. And thus the caste system virtually leaves lower caste Hindus in India to an oppressed minority.

Udit Raj, the prominent Dalit intellectual from India, recalls caste issues in Malaysia in his book,

“Caste Hindus can give up anything, including their life, but caste attitude. In 1998, when I was invited to attend the first Dalit International Convention at Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, it was unbelievable at first sight, but became a reality, when I attended. About 150 years back, British took Indians to Malaysia as labourers and assistants and eventually Indians made their homes there. More than one million Hindus are living there, but are still maintaining their caste identity. Dalits living in Malaysia have lots of grievances, which is not a contribution of the concerned soil, but virus went with them. So far, no medicine has been manufactured that can kill the caste virus” Dalit & Religious Freedom, 2005“, chapter 38.

Considering the media manipulation techniques, time line and nature of the Hindu outrage in Malaysia, there are many reasons to believe that HINDRAF and Uthay Kumar is closely associated with RSS, a Hindu Taliban who already spoiled India’s social fabric with fascist propaganda and communal riots. Watch utube.pngHindutva role in Communal Riots

Mr. P. Waytha Moorthy, the Chairman of Hindu Right Action Force, in fact is the Malaysian representative of global ‘Hindutva’ brother hood called Vishva Hindu Parishat. He also work with Hindu charity institutions like Hindu America Foundation and UK based SEWA International , both of them are in control of their parent demon, RSS . Both of these charity organizations were involved in funding anti minority riots in India. Hiring such a hate monger and ardent admirer of Aryan Hindu supremacy to solve issues of Malaysian Tamils will back fire soon. Tamil values are much closer to Dravidian culture and it will never tolerate the Aryan ideas of racial purity and dictatorship of Brahmins.

Instead, tamil Hindus should find ways for peaceful dialogue with Malay organizations and concentrate more of their energy for caste and poverty eradication. The thoughts of Thanthai Periyar E.V. Ramaswamy should be their guide light, than the false propaganda war initiated by Hindutva and its militant mafia gang, RSS.

Do you know why? RSS is the Hindu-supremacist organization that has fueled a rise in anti-Dalit, anti-Muslim, anti-Christian and anti-Sikh violence. The former ruling party, the BJP is the political arm of the RSS and helped fascism to spread across civil, judiciary, defence and educational streams of the society. According to National Crime Records Bureau, there was 1822602 riots in 2005 alone. [ Incidence Of Cognizable Crimes (IPC) Under Different Crime Heads, concluded, Page 2] NCRB website

Under India’s notorious caste system, upper caste Hindus inherited key positions and controls all the governmental branches. Violence against victims largely goes unpunished due to the support of this upper caste crooks.

The man, who killed Mahatma Gandhi in January 1948 for seeking conciliation with Minorities Nathuram Vinayak Godse, was a Brahmin and at one time belonged to the RSS. That’s part of the Sangh’s legacy. And it has not only spawned the VHP, but numerous other radical organizations backing the RSS, notably the Shiv Sena (Shiva’s Army) party of Bal Thackeray, a self-declared Hitler fan.”

Since Indian community issues in Malaysia is considered as a ‘Minority vs majority‘ issue, let us also compare the statistics of Indian Muslims, in India it self. Unlike Malaysian Hindus, Indian Muslims have not arrived from outside.

Recently, Justice Rajinder Sachar Committee report admitted that 138 Million Muslims across India are severely under-represented in government employment, including Public Sector Units. Ironically, West Bengal, a communist ruled state reported 0 (zero) percent of Muslims in higher positions in its PSUs! It has found that the share of Muslims in government jobs and in the lower judiciary in any state simply does not come anywhere close to their population share. The only place where Muslims can claim a share in proportion to their population is in prison! (Muslims convicts in India is 19.1%, while the number of under trials is 22.5%, which exceed their population ratio) . A note sent on January 9 by the army to the defence ministry in 2004 says that only 29,093 Muslims among a total of 1.1 million personnel — a ratio of 2.6 %, which compares poorly with the Muslims’ 13 % share in the Indian population. Officially, Indian Army don’t allow head count based on religion.

A Muslim child attends school for three years and four months, compared to the national average of four years. Less than two percent of the students at the elite Indian Institutes of Technology comprise of the Muslim community.

Please note that, Malaysian Indians are not the original inhabitants of the country; but Indian Muslims are from the same racial and ethnic groups as their compatriots. And still they face discrimination in the world’s largest democracy called India. (Ref. Indian Express, The Missing Muslims)

81 % Malaysia’s ethnic Indians are mostly from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, an impoverished land lagging with illiteracy and feudalism fueled by Delhi’s north favored rule. The traditional Hindu caste system compelled caste minorities including Dalits to move even to Sri Lanka. But unfortunately, this Tamils are currently in extreme war with their own hosts, Sinhalese!

Does Tamil community in Malaysia want to do the same rebellion to their own host, the Malays?

The Tribune News paper has a story about Malaysia’s care to India. “In 1971, Malaysia sent a team to enquire about the welfare of its pensioners residing in Punjab. Further, pensions paid in that country are free of income tax,” The Tribune, February 20, 2003, Chandigarh, India.

Do HINDRAF want to trouble the interests of Malaysian Indians by misleading Tamil Hindu community against such generous government like of Malaysia? Can we expect proper pension from India Government?

The Human Development Report for 2007-08 released by the UNDP ranked India 128 out of 177 countries, working it out through measures of life expectancy, education and income. Malaysia ranked 63 and listed at under High Human Development category. The report found that India’s GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) is $3,452, far below Malaysia’s $10,882. Read the statistics from UNDP website

Indian workers form the third largest foreign work force in Malaysia, with 140,000 of them seeking out a living there. Most of these migrant workers are the relatives of ethnic Indians who comprise 7% of Malaysia’s population of around 24 million.

Every year, more than 1 million Indian citizens are forced to leave their country in search of better life.

Indians form about half of the 2.6 million expatriate workers in the United Arab Emirates’ private sector which includes Hindus, Sikhs, Muslims and Christians. In 2006, India received the highest amount of remittance globally from migrants, 27 $Billion. The large part of it came from the Gulf expatriate workforce.

Further, Indian government expects overseas Indians to pump in about US$500 billion into the FOREX reserves of the country in the next 10 years, making them the single largest source of foreign receipts. Do Indian Government want to hurt their own economy by interfering in Malaysian affairs?

Migrated Hindus from India constitutes 1 million or 0.4 per cent of US population now. With the approval of U.S authorities, they built around 1,000 Hindu temples throughout the US. The generosity of the American administration did n’t stop Hindutva idiots from bashing Christian around the globe.

In Tamil Nadu, last year, 250 temples were brought down to earth following High Court orders in Madurai. The reason was those temples were built on public property. There were no protests. Tamil Hindus there thought such a drive was carried out in the interest of people at large.

Like India, thousands of smaller Hindu temples, often originating in the placement of a deity under a tree, should have mushroomed across Malaysian rubber plantations and the rural countryside. As the Hindu community grew, some of them may be converted to larger structures and government should have brought down in public interest. But why so much huge and cry in Malaysia alone?

By falsely claiming of “Ethnic cleansing against Hindus in Malaysia”, HINDRAF officials are working against the interests of India’s peaceful migrant community around the world. While Dalits, Lower castes, Sikhs, Chrisitans and Muslims are the daily victims of Hindutva’s communal riots in India, Tamil Hindus in Malaysia haven’t faced any single riots orchestrated by Malay Muslims.

Remember that India, as a country cannot offer you food or job. Tamil politicians are engaged in lip service. Leaders with Dravidian origin have limited say in India’s central government which is ruled by majority north Indian Aryans. They consider TamilNadu as the bastion of opposing imposition of north Indian rule and its Hindi language in its territories. South Indians mostly consider English as their national language than Hindi. This north and south division has a long history in India and will continue to go on for ages, as long as people in India continue to remain emotionally myopic, narrow minded and accepting of propaganda and social myths. Govt. of Tamil Nadu website has something to say about Politics of Dravidian thoughts.

Hindutva vs Tamil culture

Before the invasion of Aryans, Tamils have practiced a dual spirituality called Saivism and Thirumalism . But Brahmins enslaved Tamils with cultural and spiritual corruption.

The Hindu nationalist movement headed by Brahmin chiefs grew up in the 1920s with the establishment of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS ) The RSS gradually established a network of local branches that met daily for training sessions on martial arts. With ideological sermons making Indian identity synonymous with Brahmin culture it floated new motto even to the south, “Hindu, Hindi, Hindustan” (one people, one language, one country).

In 1965, after a 15 year gap, Hindi was declared as the solitary national language of India. This led to violent protests in Tamil Nadu and so many deaths of tamilians.

In 1996, Inspired by Hindu myths, a Marathi Hindu mafia leader called Bal Thackeray floated ‘Shiv Sena‘ a political party to drive out south Indians from the industrial city of Bombay. Shiv Sena means Army of Shiva, (referring to Hindu King, Shivaji) succeeded in its aim with the help of Hindu militants who unleashed several communal riots in the city.

In 1991, a Tamil Tiger suicide bomber killed India’s Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi ( A north Indian brahmin with aryan heritage) at an election rally outside Chennai. Those scars against Tamils are still run deep in north India, especially in a government dominated by Gandhi’s Italian-born widow Sonia.

When it comes to recording Indian history, the north of the country often ignores or overlooks events in the south. Tamils consider Vellore revolt as the first organized revolt against British in India, while Delhi officially consider it started with Sepoy Mutiny of 1857. Unlike north Indian Hindus, Tamils consider Lord Rama as the villain and Ravana as the hero. In such many ways, Tamil history and politics are in contradiction with India’s official version, which is in fact authored and promoted by Aryan north. The division within India’s caste maniacs is so deep and it cannot overcome to help anyone outside their circle.

Do the ethnic Indians in Malaysia want to come back to India? I bet none of them will come back to this sinking ship called, India. Instead of asking for more rights they should come out of their caste system and narrowness. Let them learn to respect their hosts, the Malaysian people who provided better opportunities than their caste maniac“Mother India”. Only such an attitude and kindness will bring them prosperity. Let them not forget the millions of impoverished Indian citizens living in their own country. Read more about Our Shining India at here

What make people move to out of India? Read the Real Indian facts

What if you come to Tamil Nadu and join with 1,60,000 Sri Lankan Tamil refugees ? Read this Report from Asian Centre of Human Rights

India drops down 2 places in HDI, ranks 128th

November 28, 2007

India growing? It’s not showing, Country unable to break out of class of laggards in UN assessment

The world’s second highest economic growth rate has not yet helped India hoist itself away from its customary position in the global development report card.

The Human Development Report for 2007-08 released by the UNDP today ranked India 128 out of 177 countries, working it out through measures of life expectancy, education and income.

India’s human development index (HDI) of 0.619 puts it just below Equatorial Guinea (0.642) and Solomon Islands (0.602). India’s life expectancy of 63.7 years is sandwiched between Comoros (64.1) and Mauritania (63.2), while Malawi and Rwanda have higher adult literacy than India.

The report found that India’s GDP per capita (purchasing power parity) is $3,452, far below China’s $6,757.

Iceland is at the top with Norway, Australia, Canada, Ireland, Japan, France, the US, the UK, Israel, and Singapore among the top 25 nations in the development chart.

India was ranked 126 by the HDR 2006, a rung higher than the previous year’s 127. This year, it continues to be dubbed a country at medium level of human development.

An economist said he was not surprised that the country’s impressive economic growth rate — only China’s growth surpasses India’s 9 per cent — was not reflected in the human development report.

“Our growth has been lopsided, and has not yet percolated to the masses,” Shyama Prasad Gupta, an economist and a former member of the Planning Commission, said,

India’s richest 20 per cent account for about 31 per cent of the share of income or expenditure, while the poorest 20 per cent account for around 8 per cent, the report said.

“We have two countries in one,” said Abhay Shukla, senior programme coordinator with Sathi-Cehat, a non-government organisation engaged in health and development issues.

The report has ranked India 62 among 108 developing countries in its human poverty index which measures severe deprivation in health in people who are not expected to survive age 40.

“We’re witnessing something called development polarisation. About 20 per cent of the population is showing low mortality and low fertility, key features associated with development, but in the rest of the population we don’t see this change in any significant way,” Shukla said.

The UNDP report suggests that India’s commitment to education measured through public spending dropped from 12 per cent of total government expenditure in 1991 to 10 per cent in 2005.

India’s public spending on health is only 0.9 per cent of its GDP, a fraction of 8.3 per cent in Iceland, 6.9 per cent in the US, 7 per cent in the UK, and lower than China’s 1.8 per cent.

Full report is here http://hdr.undp.org/en/statistics/

Muslims and Dalits discriminated in corporate India

October 30, 2007

For some time now and especially after publication of Sachar Committee Report Muslims put much emphasis on acquiring modern education. In rapidly globalized economy of India, education was promised to be the key to a brighter future for Muslim kids.

A recent study, however, finds that getting a call for interview can be reduced to as much as 33% for a candidate with Muslim names compared to an equivalent-qualified candidate with high caste Hindu name.

Study was lead by Chairperson of the University Grants Commission Prof. Sukhdeo Thorat and Paul Attewell of City University of New York. Beginning in October 2005 and lasting 66 weeks the study involved responding to job advertisements appearing in national and regional English newspapers with sets of resumes that were similar except for names. For each advertised position researchers sent applications with identical qualifications and experience that differed only in names. There was no explicit mention of caste or religion but names were easily identifiable as upper caste Hindu name, Dalit or Muslim names.

Only private companies were targeted and jobs that required little or no experience. In 66 weeks, researchers sent 4808 applications in response to 548 job advertisements. A call for interview or for a written test was considered a success for that application. Researchers were looking to see if chances of receiving an interview call are same for a high caste, a Dalit and a Muslim name.

Two statistical methods on the data resulted in a similar outcome. One method suggested that odds for a Dalit name is 0.67 and for a Muslim name is 0.33 to receive an interview call as compared to an equally qualified applicant with a high caste Hindu name. Another method gave the odds 0.68 and 0.35 for Dalits and Muslims, respectively. Both statistical models results are statistically significant which means that it is highly unlikely for this to happen by random chance.

The researchers concluded that “having a high-caste name considerably improves a job applicant’s chances of a positive outcome” adding that “on average, college-educated lower-caste and Muslim job applicants fare less well than equivalently- qualified applicants with high caste names, when applying by mail for employment with the modern private-enterprise sector.”

This is not surprising; Sachar Committee also found that private sectors had a dismal representation of Muslims. Sachar Committee recommended sensitizing private sector about diversity in their work force and suggested boosting Muslims recruitment through positive discrimination and affirmative action. Sachar Committee Report proposed the idea of an incentive based ‘diversity index.’

Sachar Committee Report also noted that “our data shows when Muslims appear for the prescribed tests and interviews their success rate is appreciable. This applies both to the public and private sector jobs.” But the present study suggests that any Muslim has about one third of a chance for landing that test or interview compared to a high caste Hindu.

Thorat and Attewell in their research article published in October 13th, 2007 issue of Economic and Political Weekly write that despite legal safeguards when a social group remains backward then it is blamed on group’s low level of education. These two who have been studying discrimination in United States and India states that discrimination is not acknowledged in a modern capitalist economy.

This study conclusively proves that there is discrimination in corporate India against Dalits and Muslims, with Muslims suffering the most.

“These were all highly-educated and appropriately qualified applicants attempting to enter the modern private sector, yet even in this sector, caste and religion proved influential in determining ones job chances,” researchers commented.

twocircles 

316 million Indian workers get below $ 0.49 (Rs. 20) a day

August 12, 2007
  • 394.9 million workers (86 per cent of the working population) belong to the unorganized sector
  • 316 million workers live on less than Rs. 20, or $ 0.49, a day.
  • 88 per cent of the Scheduled Tribes and the Scheduled Castes, 80 per cent of the Other Backward Classes and 85 per cent of Muslims belong to this category of people living on less than Rs. 20 a day.
  • 90 per cent of agricultural labor households are landless or have less than one hectare of holding*
  • agriculture is getting feminized with 73 per cent women being associated with it compared to 52 per cent men.

NEW DELHI: An overwhelming 79 per cent of workers in the unorganised sector live with an income of less than Rs. 20 a day, according to the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS).

A report on “Conditions of Work and Promotion of Livelihoods in Unorganised Sector,” released by the Commission here on Thursday, says over 394.9 million workers (86 per cent of the working population) belong to the unorganised sector and work under “utterly deplorable” conditions with “extremely few livelihood options.”
“Poor, vulnerable”

The report says that 88 per cent of the Scheduled Tribes and the Scheduled Castes, 80 per cent of the Other Backward Classes and 85 per cent of Muslims belong to the category of “poor and vulnerable,” who earn less than Rs. 20 a day.

In 2004-05, a total of 836 million (77 per cent) had an income below Rs. 20 a day.

Landless

Households of the small and marginal farmers account for 84 per cent and are forced to spend more than they earn and are under debt, while 90 per cent of agricultural labour households are landless or have less than one hectare of holding.

The conditions in the non-agricultural sectors are no better with 21 to 46 per cent of men and 57 to 83 per cent of women being employed as casual workers, who get less than minimum wages.

As per the survey, the latest trends indicate that agriculture is getting feminised with 73 per cent women being associated with it compared to 52 per cent men.

The NCEUS attributes the plight of the unorganised workers to a lack of comprehensive and appropriate legislation and the absence of targeted programmes.

Inadequate

Where laws exist, the Commission finds their implementation inadequate. Also, they are seldom focussed on unorganised workers.

Releasing the report, NCEUS Chairman Arjun Sengupta said the panel had recommended a Rs. 45,000-crore action plan for the overall improvement of the unorganised sector.

Aug 10, 2007, Hindu

LEFTYPROF

Untouchables’ left behind in booming nation

July 6, 2007

DALLIPUR, India — The hip young Indians working inside this country’s multinational call centers have one thing in common: Almost all hail from India’s upper and middle castes, elites in this highly stratified society.

India may be booming, but not for those who occupy the lowest rung of society. The Dalits, once known as untouchables, continue to live in grinding poverty and suffer discrimination in education, jobs, and healthcare. For them, status and often occupation are still predetermined in the womb.

While some Indians had hoped urbanization and growth would crumble ideas about caste, observers say tradition and prejudice have ultimately prevailed.

“There’s talk of a modern India. But the truth is India can’t truly move ahead with caste in place,” said Chandra Bhan Prasad, a Dalit writer and specialist on India’s caste system. “In all ways, it’s worse than the Jim Crow laws were in the American South because it’s completely sanctioned by religion. Despite so many reforms, the idea of untouchability is still very much a part of Indian life.”

As India’s economy surges, one of the country’s most serious and stubborn challenges is how to combat entrenched caste prejudice. Dalits, along with other “backward” castes, make up the majority of India’s 1.1 billion people, and social scientists worry that these groups are being left behind.

The contrast between the gleaming call centers of rising India and the abject poverty that is the reality for many Dalits is all too obvious in Dallipur, an impoverished village on the outskirts of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh state.

Without electricity, paved roads or running water, the hamlet is home to landless Mushars, the lowest social stratum of Dalits, who work as shoe shiners, trash pickers, toilet cleaners, and street sweepers.

Amid the straw and mud villages, two children died of starvation last year — not for lack of food in the area, but as a result of prejudice.

Chandrika, a 24-year-old Dalit mother, recalled carrying her crying 2-year-old son and her weak 20-month-old daughter to a nearby health center. There, she pleaded for a card that would allow her malnourished children to receive free milk.

But before the nurses could examine her children, she was mocked and shooed away by doctors, who told the young mother to go beg in the market.

“They said again and again, ‘We don’t want to see you Dalits here bothering us,’ ” said Chandrika, a thin, dark-skinned woman who wept as she recounted how her children died. “My milk had dried up from stress. There was no work for me. There was no one to hear my plight.”

Local government leaders who came to investigate her children’s deaths insisted that the shy mother and her fellow villagers build a raised concrete stage — Dalits could be addressed by upper castes only from a higher platform, Chandrika and other villagers were told. The 3-foot-tall dais remains in Dallipur today, the only outcome of the investigation.

By virtue of birth, some castes inherit wealth; the Dalits inherit debt.

Caste often determines Indians’ spouses, friends, residence and, most important, occupation — part of a Hindu belief that people inherit their stations in life based on the sins and good deeds of past lives.

Some Indians believe that the spread of capitalism in urban areas has in some ways dissolved caste by creating new occupations and eliminating obsolete ones. For instance, with the growing use of flush toilets in Indian cities, the disposal of human waste, once a job for Dalits, is now done with a simple pull of a lever.

In booming evening bazaars in Mumbai and New Delhi, lower castes sell cellphones, leather tennis shoes, and grooming kits from small shops and curbside pushcarts alongside higher castes, with everyone “in a capitalist rush to make money,” said Prasad, the writer. “A lower-caste businessman may even enjoy an evening cigarette with a higher caste, completely taboo even 50 years ago.”

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh recently compared India’s caste system to apartheid in South Africa, calling it not just prejudice but “a blot on humanity.”

Critics say that such statements are simply meant to garner votes from lower castes and that any gains made by Dalits have been marginal.

“India is not a true democracy,” said Anup Srivastava, a researcher with the People’s Vigilance Commission on Human Rights in Varanasi who is investigating complaints filed by Dalits about discrimination among neighbors, in schools, at hospitals and at work. “The country is independent. But the people aren’t. How can there be a democracy when there are still people known as untouchables who face daily discrimination?”

Copyright 2007 Globe Newspaper Company.

Emily Wax, Washington Post July 5, 2007

98% cases against Dalit atrocities go scot-free

July 6, 2007

Bangalore: The acquittal of all the accused in the Kambalapalli massacre in which seven Dalits were burnt to death is not an exception. The Karnataka State Commission for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes has found that the accused in 98 per cent of cases of atrocities against Dalits were allowed to go scot-free. The reason: witnesses do not turn up for fear of being attacked.

This was disclosed by commission Chairman Nehru C. Olekar at a press conference here on Tuesday after a meeting with representatives of various Dalit organisations. The commission sought their views on the condition of the people from the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in the jurisdiction of the Bangalore Zilla Panchayat.

Mr. Olekar said the commission would recommend to the Government to provide security to witnesses. However, around 10 per cent of complaints of atrocities were found to be false. There were around 500 cases of atrocities pending in each district.

Strangely, the commission had hardly come across cases of Dalits being ostracised. Three such cases had been reported in the State, including two in Kolar district.

He said 446 atrocity cases were reported in five years in Bangalore Rural district. The taluk-wise break up is: Channapatna – 32, Devanahalli – 44, Doddballapur – 22, Hoskote – 133, Kanakapura – 88, Magadi – 47, Nelamangala – 143 and Ramanagaram – 43.
Confirmation

Mr. Olekar said the commission had taken up the case of confirmation of the services of municipal cleaners (pourakarmikas) in the State with the Legislature Committee on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The working conditions of the municipal cleaners in the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike (around 8,000) were so bad that they were paid just Rs. 1,200 a month, whereas their counterparts in the Gulbarga City Corporation were paid Rs. 4,900. He said the Government would be asked to stop hiring cleaners through contractors. Instead the workers should be paid directly by the civic body.
Regularisation

Another serious problem Dalits were facing in the State was the inordinate delay in the regularisation of unauthorised cultivation by them on government land. Each district had 2,000 to 3,000 such cases that had pending for years.

He said the Government would be asked to regularise such cultivation, barring those on forest land.

Mr. Olekar expressed displeasure over the absence of the Deputy Commissioner of Bangalore Rural district from the meeting. He would write to the Government to take action against the official, he said.

Some Dalit organisations had complained that beneficiaries were not getting subsidies, the Chairman said. The Government would be asked to build one hostel in each of the eight taluks in the district to accommodate post-matric students. The Government would also be asked to remove youths staying in hostels for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, who were not students.

The commission would ask the Government to conduct a Statewide survey on the academic performance of students staying in such hostels. This was to refute the criticism that they were enjoying government largesse without improving their academic performance.
Internal quota

Mr. Olekar supported the demand of organisations representing people from the Madiga, Bhovi and Korama communities for internal reservation to prevent a few influential sections among the Dalits from cornering all the benefits.

The Commission had so far visited 12 districts and would be visiting the other districts. It would give its report to the Government before August 20, he said.

July 04, 2007, The Hindu

967 Cases of Atrocities against Dalits in Gujarat

July 5, 2007

Dalits in Gujarat eclipsed under Modi: Meira

Claiming that the Dalits were “eclipsed” under the present dispensation in Gujarat, Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Meira Kumar on Monday criticised the Narendra Modi-led government for the “atrocities” meted out against Dalits and other backward sections of the society.

“The present government in Gujarat has a poor track record in tackling crimes against the backward sections of the society,” Kumar said addressing the day-long ‘jan-mitra shibir’ (conference of party workers) organised by the scheduled caste cell of Congress.

She claimed that Dalits were “eclipsed” in Gujarat at present.

“In the year 2005, there were a total of 967 cases of atrocities against Dalits in Gujarat where many were murdered, raped, burnt and seriously injured,” Kumar told the gathering of party workers who had assembled from different parts of the state.

“This year in just six months, there were a total of 412 cases of atrocities registered against backward classes including Dalits,” she said adding the figures she was quoting were sourced from the Social Justice department of Gujarat.

“In many of these cases FIRs are yet to be registered,” Kumar added

Press Trust of India, Gandhinagar, July 3, 2006

Merits of Mandal report

June 14, 2007

In view of the confusion created by Mandal II, the Supreme Court has asked the government to clarify two things: One, what is the basis for determining who belongs to an OBC category; and two, the rationale behind 27 per cent reservation for OBCs. These two points need to be immediately cleared.
OBCs belong to the shudra category in the caste classification. Several people confuse shudras with Dalits (earlier known as untouchables). OBCs were supposed to be people who lived by their physical labour.

Though not treated as untouchables, they formed the largest segment of low castes and suffered from all sorts of social disabilities. That is why they qualify to be categorised as socially and educationally backward, and thus entitled to affirmative action under the Constitution.

As to their identification, the Mandal Commission undertook the biggest social survey ever attempted in this country. To begin with, an experts’ panel under the chairmanship of eminent sociologist M N Srinivas and 14 other social scientists was formed to devise schedules for identification of OBCs.

Simultaneously, Delhi University held a seminar for a thorough discussion of the terms of reference of the commission. After several meetings, the experts’ panel prepared four comprehensive schedules, two each for rural and urban areas.

All the state governments were sent these schedules for conducting the survey. Two villages and one urban block were selected at random in each and every district of the country, and all the residents of these areas were covered by the survey.

Questionnaires were also sent to all the states and 30 ministries of the central government, and notices published in national dailies and regional papers inviting public response.

The data thus collected was passed on to the National Informatics Centre, which analysed the information contained in the four pre-coded schedules.

The results of this analysis were used by the experts’ panel, which derived 11 indicators of social, educational and economic backwardness. It was by the application of these indicators that OBCs were identified.

As to the number of OBCs and their percentage, government had stopped collecting caste-wise enumeration of population after the 1931 census.

Consequently, the population of various OBCs identified by the commission were culled from this census, and extrapola-ted on the basis of population growth trends over this period.

That is how the percentage of OBCs was arrived at, and it worked out to 52 per cent. When the 11 indicators were applied to identify OBCs, 44 per cent happened to be Hindus and 8 per cent were from other religions.

That shows how authentic the indicators were as it picked up a fair number of non-Hindus who were socially and educationally backward.

Some commentators have pointed out that the National Sample Survey Organisation’s investigations show that OBCs constitute 32 per cent of the population, and National Family Health Survey places the figure at 30 per cent.

These two surveys cannot match the span and depth of Mandal Commission’s investigations, and its findings can be revised only if an exercise of the same magnitude is attempted.

It has also been pointed out that 25-50 per cent of the reserved seats remain vacant for lack of qualified OBC candidates, resulting in a colossal waste of resources. This is true, but it is the result of sloppy and unplanned implementation.

The commission had laid great emphasis on creating suitable infrastructure in institutions to enable OBC candidates to derive full advantage from reservation. This required adequate planning and financial commitment. But as in 1990, the issue is again at present being treated purely as a vote-getting ploy.

The government is now dangling the carrot of proportionately increased seats in professional institutions to obviate any shrinkage in the ‘merit’ quota, as if the additional infrastructure can be created by waving a magic wand.

The current turmoil could have been averted if educationists had been taken into confidence, a sober assessment made of available capacities and a phased scheme of implementation prepared for a smooth transition.

By S S GILL, Times of India, 13 June 2006

[The writer is a former secretary, Mandal Commission.]