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Rally

February 2013


Rally

February 2013


M. G. Selvin Raj, S.J. National Adviser The history of the Panchayati Raj could be traced from

Village level in the Gram Sabha. Gram Sabha is an

the time village local communities were functioning in

integral part of the Gandhian concept of Village Swaraj.

ancient India and also its evolution is found during the

The Gram Sabha is to enable each and every voter of

British period. The reality is that whether in the form of

the village to participate in decision- making at local

Panchayats or in other inform al institutional

level. It is a constitutional body consisting of all persons

arrangements, rural India had systems of local

registered in the electoral rolls of a village Panchayat.

governance especially to settle disputes among people.

It provides a political forum to meet, discuss, debate

They did not look to provincial or central government

and analyse their common problems, the development

for their day-to-day living.

and administrative actions of elected representatives

There have been two divergent views on village

seeking their transparency and accountability in the

Panchayats in independent India and its new

functioning of the village Panchayat. Thus Gram Sabha

Constitution. Gandhi favoured Village Swaraj,

is expected to be an epitome of participatory and direct

strengthening of village Panchayats and giving them

democracy. At the same time, Gram Sabha is also to

centrality in local governance. Whereas Ambedkar

act as a watchdog in the interest of village communities

believed that the village represented regressive India,

by monitoring the functioning of the Gram Panchayat.

a source of oppression and domination by the dominant

The Gram Sabha was established in every village

caste people. Hence the new state had to build

instead of Gram Panchayat level along with a Gram

safeguards against such social oppression and

Kosh (village fund) in every Gram Sabha including four

subjugation. The Panchayats and their organisation

parts: (i) Anna Kosh (food), (ii) Shram Kosh (labour),

were therefore placed as Article 40 under the Directive

(iii) Vastu Kosh (Goods) and (iv) Wage Kosh (Cash).

Principles of State Policy in the new Constitution in

Gram Sabha is one of the most important three basic

1950, which were not justiciable.

institutions of the new direct democracy at the village

The 73 Amendemnt and its preceding 64th

level. The other two are (Gram Kosh) a village fund and

Constitutional Amendment Bill were not a response to

(Gram Shanti Seva) – a village peace corps. Therefore

pressure from the grass roots but a result of the

it must be made successful. It would regulate and

realization of the need to reform the existing structure

develop village life and function automatically. This was

of government to improve efficiency, responsiveness,

a structure based entirely on people’s power (Lokshakti)

and accessibility of quality public services. But in

expressing itself in the form of village power

course of time the Government of India felt that

(Gramshakti).

rd

implementation of development programmes would be

Unless all citizens get equal space for informed

most effective if local people were consulted and

and effective participation in the deliberations of Gram

involved, especially to identify the beneficiaries for

Sabha, Panchayati Raj Institutions cannot function in

development programmes, to make decisions on how

a participatory, accountable and transparent manner.

to spend the funds available for different local projects.

Panchayats can bring desired improvement in the lives

This is the primary duty of any Panchayat.

of villages only when they listen to the Gram Sabhas

The Gram Sabha is a watchdog……

and when Gram Sabhas meet, deliberate, decide, demand and monitor regularly.

JP and Gandhi advocated direct democracy at the Rally

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February 2013


The Challenge and the Way Forward

limitations in a government-driven programme for local

Gram Sabha is one of the integral and central

participation, especially when it ignores local realities

features of the 73 Amendment and it is also seen as a

of divisions based on caste, religion, region, power

means to ensure direct democracy in rural areas. While

structure, economic relations and dependencies and

the hopes raised through the amendment are high, the

vulnerabilities unless it is preceded or accompanied

real picture at the grass roots level is different and

by sustained capacity building and unless it is driven

mixed. While to a large extent, citizens’ articipation in

by a sustained vision and not only part of a government

the Gram Sabha is not satisfactory. Caste, class and

scheme/programme.

rd

gender hierarchies have a crucial bearing on

When we give a tool in the hands of someone, we

institutional processes and democratic practices.

need to teach them also how to use it. Then only it will

The political culture promoted since independence

be effective and efficient leading to development and

has also been one of patronage and it has certainly not

progress. In fact, Panchyati Raj is a tool in the hands

encouraged the participation of people in institutional

of our people.

processes. Gram Panchayats should be accountable

This is the context makes the AICUFers to reflect

to the Gram Sabha and the process of making

about Panchayati Raj and its functioning. Though the

Panchayats accountable should be the business of the

power is decentralized people are not sufficiently

Gram Sabha. While democratic institutions provide

prepared to exercise their power. When illiteracy and

opportunities for achieving democratic ideals, it is

ignorance prevail among marginalized people we cannot

democratic practice through which these can be

think of efficient and effective Panchayat Raj in our

realized. W hile both democratic institutions and

villages. In this process of decentralization of power all

democratic practice are important for good governance,

the other vices also have been decentralized such as

the latter is not guaranteed by the former. In the context

corruption, exploitation, cheating, rate race, red-tape,

of Panchayati Raj institutions, strengthening people’s

favoritism, nepotism, etc. Still we need to create greater

participation in the Gram Sabha is a critical prerequisite

awareness among people. This is the ongoing challenge

for making Panchayats and the system accountable to

of our student community. Are they ready to bring social

people.

transformation among our people? If so put yourself in

Gram Sabha has been described as the institution

the context where you get more awareness, leading to

for direct democracy, for participation of the local

critical reflection. If this process is achieved by every

community in decisions on their concerns, programmes

student and by every AICUFers then their involvement

and projects, fixing priorities, selecting beneficiaries,

in social transformation will lead them towards

receiving annual reports and accounts, approving the

constructive action.

coming year’s programmes, conducting social audit,

The AICUF National Summer camps will be inviting

etc.

you soon and you be get ready. Summer holiday for While participation has been described in the

an AICUF is certainly qualitatively different from other

Indian context, not only as a means to an end but also

normal students who enjoy their holidays. In the same

an end in itself, the results are not seen in increasing

manner the Ex- AICUFers are coming together to form

this participation. It remains a centrally provided,

a team in preparation towards the 2nd Ex-AICUFers

centrally driven exercise even after 20 years. Where

convention to pool their experiences and make their

some civil society efforts have been made for

impact felt in our country. We wish you all the best

mobilisation, the impact has not been sustained.

dear AICUFers on your march that never stops your search and research! Take care!

One lesson from this experience is that there are Rally

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February 2013


Malini

Constitutional Obligation: ‘The state shall take steps to organize village Panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of self governance.’ (Article 40, Constitution of India)

THE PANCHAYAT system in India goes back to the Vedic times. It

interference in decision making

has been an integral part of a self-contained and self-sufficient rural

hampers the effectiveness of local

administration. A Panchayat consisted of five or m ore public

government.

representatives, selected or elected by the people. A pinch could be

”Democracy was the greatest

removed if people so liked. The Panchayat was headed by a Sarpanch or

gift of our freedom struggle to the

a Chief Sarpanch, who preside over the meetings and deliberations of a

people of India. Independence

Panchayat.

made the nation free. Democracy

The concept of Panchayat Raj is nothing new. It was the dream of

made our people free. A free people

Gandhi. Its need was stressed by Pandit Nehru, and it was repeatedly and

are a people who are governed by

forcefully advocated by Jai Prakash Narayan. But, unfortunately, for various

their will and ruled with their consent.

reasons, not much headway

A free people are a people who

could be made for the realization

participate in decisions affecting

of this ideal. One of the greatest

their lives and their destinies” said

shortcomings of any centre-

Gandhi.

sponsored rural development

It is said always that villages

programme is its inability to

are the backbone of our nation

‘trickle down’ to the true intended

and it is pathetic and ironic that

beneficiaries or the deserving

we ourselves breaking our own

poorest of the poor. Usually, the

backbone. It’s high time to

panchayats are dependent on

concentrate the issues and

government at higher level for

problems in Panchayat Raj

their funds and this restricts their

Institutions. Though the new

decision making and Political

Panchayat Raj Institutions have

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February 2013


now got constitutional legitimacy, some pre-conditions/pre-requisites for the successful working of the PRIs in order to fulfill the socioeconomic aspirations of the rural masses need to be taken care of. The structural short-comings of the Constitutional Seventy Third Amendment Act, 1992 and the existing socio-economic power structure in the rural areas of the country are likely to affect the successful working of the PRIs and thereby people’s aspirations. W hen development of the village becomes the main agenda and initiatives are taken to achieve political unity, villages can leverage the relationship with higher level politicians for their progress. Given the competitiveness and stakes involved in the electoral politics, every vote counts and is valued. More recently, contestants and political parties have invested large amounts in election campaigns. This strategy of collective bargaining with politicians is tough given the differences even within any

governments has dangerous

small village. However, if unity is forged among the villagers and development

implications. It may pose a threat to

or collective gain takes priority over petty differences then a village can

their existence as units of self

strike a good deal from contesting candidates.

governments.

The 1992 Act empowers the State Legislature to decide the PRIs

According to the overview on

structures, their powers and functions, very little real powers in each subject

the functions of every PRI, it is

area owing to poor delegation which is against the objectives of the

suggested that NGOs and other

decentralization of powers. As a result, to make Panchayats as institutions

village

of local self government has been ignored in much recent State legislation.

strengthen the existing Gram

The very concept of decentralized governance based on the donated funds

Panchayat mechanism (or create

from the governments (central/state) is a false concept of decentralization.

any official links) instead of creating

Because it cultivates attitudes of patronage, irresponsibility, corruption,

parallel system s that are not

misuse of public money, exploitation and nepotism. This concept neither

sustainable and that distract the

cultivates initiative nor self reliance. If the Government resources/funds do

community. Data, when collected

not flow, such decentralization will automatically collapse. The growing

from any village should always be

financial dependence of the Panchayats on the central and state

given back to the village so it can

interventions

should

be used for further development. As well every citizen in every particular Gram/ Community must have the willingness to accept the change, to address issues of equity and gender, attentive to bring in the flow of benefits, in order to turn our villages vibrant and to make strong and straighten the backbone of our country.

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February 2013


Renisha Mall NC Member, Maharashtra.

The constitutional provision states: “the state shall take steps to organize village Panchayats and endow them with such powers and authority as may be necessary to enable them to function as units of local self government� (Article 40, in Part-IV-Directive Principles of State Policy).

INDIA IS A COUNTRY where

suppressed-caste. On

family is considered as the most

one hand we are taught

important social institution. The

marriage is a sacred

post-colonial period brought in

institution and on the

many changes to the political,

other, evils like dowry,

economical and social status of the

honour killing and marital

country. But, as ever before, we

rape are prevalent. A paradox in the

are considered staunch defender of our moral values of respect and

whole

valuing our elders. But today, if we

Authority! The whole

begin to critically evaluate our

social system that we

values passed on by generations,

construct is difficult to be

on the one hand there are virtuous

understood by us. Do

practices and on the other hand

system

of

you expect now to criticize the government?

there are values that are highly

Village swaraj was the alternative of Gandhi’s vision of an independent

questionable. There are places were

India. This was due to his fundamental opposition to parliamentary

a girl child is treated as the goddess

democracy which he saw as perpetuating domination and his belief in an

of wealth-Laxmi, and on the other,

economy of limited wants based on local production, resources,

they are treated as a burden to sell

consumption and technologies. Dr. Ambedkar opposed this suggestion,

off after 20 years! On one hand we

viewing village India differently and believing that the path of the future

are taught to respect elders and not

lay in a constitutional parliamentary democracy. For him, the village

to kill animals, and on the other

represented a regressive India, a source of oppression. The modern

degrade

state hence had to build safeguards against such social oppression and

Rally

people

who

are

5

February 2013


the only way it could be effected

strengthen the rural local administration.

was through the adoption of a

After the new generations of Panchayats have started functioning

parliamentary model of politics. A

several issues have come to the fore, which have a bearing on human

compromise was reached and

rights. The important factor, which has contributed to the Dalit situation

establishment of Panchayats at the

vis-à-vis the Panchayat system, is the nature of Indian society, which of

village level as one of the goals was

course determines the nature of the state. The Indian society is known for

incorporated in the Constitution. The

its inequality, social hierarchy and the rich and poor divide. The social

constitutional provision states: “the

hierarchy is the result of the caste system, which is unique to India.

state shall take steps to organize

Therefore caste and class are the two factors, which deserve attention in

village Panchayats and endow them

this context.

with such powers and authority as

At another level it is essential to look into the question: who are the

may be necessary to enable them

victims of the social system and nature of the state? They are women, the

to function as units of local self

Dalits, Adivasis and the poor. How can the process of decentralization

government” (Article 40, in Part-IV-

through strengthening the democratically

Directive Principles of State Policy).

elected local bodies tackle these issues

So efforts were made to set up

along with defining rural

Panchayats at village level through

development

various legislations in all states and

com pressed way?

Union Territories in the early years

W hether

of independence.

the

decentralization process

The formal beginning of Panchayati

in

Raj

in

and

post-

the

decentralized

institutions

increase

independence era can be traced to

human rights violations

the launching of the nation-wide

or

Comm unity

enhance

the

Development

possibility for respecting

Programme, when the need was felt

and observing human

for an ef fective institutional

rights?

mechanism to involve the local

Generally the power structure in Gram Panchayats is in favour of the

communities in the process of

dominant castes in the society. The emergence of such type of power

development. The policy on

structure not only defeats the basic implications of democratic

Panchayati Raj emerged from the

decentralization but also the aim of rural development with social justice.

recommendations of the Balwantrai

In this context, reservation provides scope for women and for the members

Mehta Committee which stated that

of SC/ ST communities to have participation in Panchayats. Before the

one of the least successful aspects

73rd Constitutional Amendment Act came into operation there was no

of

effective participation for the weaker sections. In earlier state Acts there

Community

Developm ent

Programme (CDP) and National

was no reservation of seats for SCs and STs.

Extension Council (NEC) work was

There has always been a need for change in our society. Political

its attem pt to evoke people’s

systems have always been turning history over the centuries. But the

initiative. This view of the committee

attitude in the way they function is typical to the attitude present in each

provides a broad perspective of

one of us.

contextual antecedent ground which the

democratic

it comes to equal representation of Dalits, women, Tribals, linguistic and

decentralization is developed to

religious minorities in decision making, it is sometimes a bane. February 2013 6

Rally

concept

of

The Panchayt Raj has always been a boon in various places, but when


Sylvian Romi Gomes St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata

Village panchayats are like dictators in rural and remote villages who enforce their decision as supreme. Their role in removing these issues is quite passive or negligible; some of the panchayats even support these practices very strongly on the basis of traditions.

IT

HAS BEEN more than half a century that we have gained

traditions that have no meaning

independence, but yet we live in a society that is double-faced and guarded

because of which some innocent

by old traditions and customs that have no meaning/worth/significance in

girls suffer? All of these above

our lives. We might have gained independence from the British Raj but

practices have one thing in common

now we have to gain independence from our own evil doings, evil customs,

and that is they’re all practiced on

traditions and our age old disbelieves.

girl child/girls/women. Do our beliefs,

Panchayati Raj or village panchayats are very much deeply rooted in

traditions really take women and girls

our Indian system of law and judiciary since the British reign. We are free

to be so weak, trivial and

now from anyone’s control and reign but yet many villages in this new and

immaterially...??? Women are the

Independent India live in the fear and awe of these village panchayats.

strongest pillars of any society that

Honour killing, sati, dowry issues that are practised even today in many

help in building the nation. Without

rural rem ote villages. Village

women men are nothing.

panchayats when questioned about

Village panchayats in the

some village disputes and cases

current scenario have done

regarding these issues simply tell

very little or probably nothing

that

about these issues. The

they’re

guarding

their

traditions...!!!

relationship between these

Is it really just to guard traditions

issues and the role of village

and customs by harming innocent

panchayats are totally

women and girls? (What is their

dependent on the mindsets

fault? They’ve done nothing! What

of the elders who make up

is the need for protecting those

the panchayats. So it is quite

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February 2013


complex and its very deeplyrooted. Even now if we go to

Girl child marriage is still prevalent

is quite passive or negligible; some of the panchayats even

any remote village or near the

in Rajasthan and some parts of

support these practices very

countryside, we will still find

Northern India, in remote Odisha

strongly on the basis of

women and girls being tortured for dowry, they’re not

small teenage girls are forced to

traditions. But can we really put the

given proper education like

marry men thrice their age. And

blame on these panchayats

boys, sometimes they’re burnt

what

or

alive, tortured, tormented and

doing...???

abused, and their panchayats

are

their

panchayats

should

we

blame

ourselves! It is their mindsets that are still strongly rooted

are just seeing it happen without any care. Child marriage is still prevalent

in

in Rajasthan and some parts of Northern India, in remote Odisha small

Panchayats are authorities in

teenage girls are forced to marry men thrice above their age. And what

villages who should safeguard and

are their panchayats doing...??? Nothing!!! When the police try to intervene

ensure the well-being of their people,

the elders of panchayats say that they are guarding their customs and

but often times we find contrary

traditions and will not even stop from doing so. In fact, what we really see

things happening in reality!

is that these panchayats are like dictators, made up of older males of

The scenario prior to independence

family, who have got the position not by the means of voting but because

is worse than the present atrocities

of their age. Moreover, they don’t follow the constitution of India, they

that are prevalent in the villages. We

have their own set of rules, laws and order based on their traditions and

cannot change what has happened

which is considered supreme.

but we can surely change what is

Village panchayat leaders are like dictators in rural and remote villages

traditions

and

practices.

about to happen in future.

who enforce their decision as supreme. Their role in removing these issues

AICUF NATIONAL SUMMER CAMPS 2013 Summer Camp 1

Summer Camp 2

Theme:

“Gender Assertion”

Theme:

Date:

18th – 21st May, 2013 (4days)

Venue:

Indian Social Institute, Bangalore,

Date:

22nd – 25th May, 2013(4days)

Participants:

2 girls + 2 boys (Each State)

Venue:

Nalgonda, Andhra Pradesh

Arrival:

17 May before 5pm

Participants:

2 girls + 2 boys (Each State)

Departure:

21nd May after 5pm

Arrival:

21st May before 5pm

Departure:

25th May after 5pm

“Politics of State Division and its Impact on Marginalised People”

th

Summer Camp 3

Summer Camp 4

Theme:

“Ecological Consciousness

Theme:

“Damn!! Displacement”.

Towards Environmental

Date:

2st – 5th June, 2013(4days)

Sustainability”.

Venue:

Borpada, (Valsad), Gujarat

Date:

26th – 29th May, 2013(4days)

Participants:

2 girls + 2 boys (Each State)

Venue:

Ahmednagar (Pune), Maharashtra

Arrival:

1st June before 5pm

Participants:

2 girls + 2 boys (Each State)

Departure:

6th June Morning

Arrival:

25th May before 5pm

Departure:

30th May Morning

Kindly reserve your train tickets as early as possible. Be in contact with your State Advisers and National Secretariate to obtain further details to reach the camp site.. Rally

8

February 2013


Udhay Shankar, Jamshedpur

THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION (RTI) offers a

developed or under developed. Panchayati Raj Institu-

key tool for ensuring that Panchayati Raj Institutions

tions offer citizens living in rural areas a practical op-

more effectively meet their goal of promoting participa-

portunity to participate in village level decision making

tion and entrenching accountability of the government.

and planning processes to engage with the various de-

In recent years, the US and several other highly

velopmental schemes being implemented by the gov-

advanced nations have passed through important tran-

ernment, and to interact with their elected representa-

sitions in the makeup of their work force, the basis of

tives directly to ensure that their interests are effec-

their economy, and in the very nature of their society.

tively served and their money is properly spent. The

The principle of democratic representation is an essen-

devolution process involves transferring of political power

tial feature of self govern-

and administrative autonomy

ment. Panchayati Raj insti-

to local government units with

tutions in India are steady

locally elected politicians.

efforts to decentralize gov-

This system gives local au-

ernment to promote greater

thorities autonomy within

participation of citizens in

clearly demarcated areas of

their own governance. This

decision making through

process of democratic de-

constitutional rights.

centralization was set in

In reality, Panchayati Raj

motion with the Constitution

Institutions have been criti-

(Seventy Third Amendment

cized for poor representa-

Act) passed by the Indian

tions, failure to implement the

Parliament in 1992, which

participatory decisions of

enabled decentralized gov-

their constituencies and mis-

ernance

management of funds. In this

through

Panchayati Raj Institution in rural areas. They function

context the right to information offers a key tool for en-

at the village intermediates (block) and district level. To-

suring that Panchayati Raj Institutions more effectively

day throughout the country there are approximately

meet their goal of participation and encroaching effi-

2,34,030 Gram Panchayats at the village level, 6, 053

cient and effective government. People’s participation

intermediate Panchayats at the block level and 535 dis-

in Panchayat Institution will be more meaningful when

trict Panchayats and a total of about 31 lakhs elected

people have the information to make known choices

representative at all three tiers. This is the largest rep-

Lama and participate in decisionDalai making processes on the

resentative base in a democracy anywhere in the world,

basis of relevant and actual facts and not gossips. In

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February 2013


practice, the right to information provides that people

The National Institute of Rural Development has

should be able to access information from Panchayati

released a publication “Implementation of Rural Devel-

Raj Institution upon request and that Panchayati Raj

opment Programme- Role of Panchayati Raj Institution

Institutions have a duty to proactively publish important

in the context of Right to Information Act”, which is meant

information generated through Gram Sabha meetings

to provide information to people about how to access

either by putting the information on notice boards or by

information from panchayats regarding all major rural

publication in the official gazettes and local newspa-

development schemes run by the ministry of Rural De-

pers.

velopment. The Rural Development and poverty allevia-

Message delivery through loudspeakers in the vil-

tion programmes

lage is also an effective medium for this.

implemented, support the infrastructure, health,

Article 40 of the Constitution directs the govern-

employment issues. It is the primary responsibility of

ment to establish Panchayats to serve as institutions of

Panchayati Raj Institutions to implement these schemes.

local self governance. According to the Balwantrai Mehta

The National Institute of Rural Development publication

Commission reports recommendations, the popularly

is intended to fill the information gap by discriminating

elected village councils (Gram Panchayat) is the basic

information about functioning of panchayats in the imple-

unit. A block is a large sub-unit of a district. The district

mentation of Rural Development programmes.

council (Zilla Parishad) is the top level of the system. Its

Thus, we see that the formation and functioning of

jurisdiction includes all village and block councils in the

the Panchayats under the Panchayat Act have aroused.

district.

Initiatives are undertaken to expand the scope and power

In recent years, there has been an almost over-

of the village constituencies in terms of greater partici-

flowing global trend towards recognition of the right to

pation of the people in the planning process as well as

information by countries, inter governmental organiza-

to expand the participation of women and schedule casts.

tions, civil society and the people. The right to informa-

This effective participation can only be exercised when

tion has been recognized as a fundamental human right,

authentic information related to matters of public inter-

which upholds the inherent dignity of all human beings.

est is delivered to the grass root people. Therefore the

The right to information forms the crucial base of par-

Right to Information Act becomes a constitutional right

ticipatory democracy- it is essential to ensure account-

which includes the right to receive and collect informa-

ability and good governance. The greater the access of

tion. Right to Information should be treated as everyone's

the citizen to information, the greater is the responsive-

birth right.

ness of government to community needs. Without in-

Thus, there is an urgent need to modify more ef-

formation people cannot adequately exercise their rights

fectively the functioning of Panchayat system. We un-

as citizens or make informed choices.

derstand that information, participation and development,

The free flow of information remains severely re-

all these three words are interlinked with each other.

stricted by three factors:-

The more information is accessed, greater is the aware-

a)

The legislative framework which includes several

ness it yields, then again this greater awareness leads

pieces of restricted legislation, such as the Official

to enhanced participation and then again this enhanced

Secrets Act, 1923.

participation leads to enormous development and growth.

The pervasive culture of secrecy and arrogance

Right to Information Act, elections, meetings, free flow

within the bureaucracy.

of information at the grass root level, and people’s par-

The low level of literacy awareness among India’s

ticipation in mobilizing resources to create required in-

people.

frastructure will pave the way for effective functioning

The National Institute of Rural Development- an Ef-

of Panchayat system.

b) c)

fort to Provide Information: Rally

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February 2013


Divya Durga

IN

THE CONTEXT of

born in historically discriminated

traditional Hindu society, Dalit

m inority castes have been

status has often been historically

elected to its highest judicial and

associated with occupations

political offices. In India’s most

regarded as ritually impure,

populous state, Uttar Pradesh,

such as any work involving

Dalits have revolutionized politics

leatherwork, butchering, or

and have elected a popular Dalit

removal of rubbish, animal

chief minister named Ms.

carcasses, and waste. As a

Mayawati.

result, Dalits were commonly

Direct political participation of

segregated, and banned from

Dalit’s in local governance

full participation in Hindu social

(Panchayati Raj) is an issue of

life. Discrimination against

human right in itself and enables

Dalits still exists in rural areas

the realization of a host of other

in the private sphere, in

human rights. Political voice and

everyday matters such as access

economic conditions of its Dalit

decision-making power concerning

to eating places, schools, temples

population.

basic

and water sources. It has largely

democratically elected K. R.

development and social justice are

disappeared in urban areas and in

Narayanan, a Dalit, as the President

critical factors in challenging and

the public sphere. Some Dalits have

of our country. In last 15 years,

transforming structural caste-class-

successfully integrated into urban

Indians

gender discrimination, and enabling

In

Indian society, where caste

1997,

India

services,

economic

Dalits to realize their fundamental

origins are less obvious and

rights. Political participation

less important in public life.

also

demands

Since 1950, India has

accountability from state

enacted

and non-state actors to

and

implemented many laws

guarantee and respect

and social initiatives to

these people’s equal political

protect and improve the socioRally

voice and development. This 11

February 2013


requires a transformation of power relationships both within institutions of governance and in the people’s social environment. Recent legal and policy reforms in India to ensure the representation of marginalized social groups in decentralized governance, including Dalits and specifically Dalit women, through constitutionally mandated reservations (affirmative action quotas)

in

Panchayati

Raj

institutions bring these issues to the

be challenged and overpowered

further restrictions on freedoms

fore. They demand analysis to

relatively easily by dominant forces

through social norms preventing

determine how Dalit women are

and for the majority of Dalit women,

movement outside the home for

enabled to claim their right to political

the Panchayat election process

campaigning, livelihood demands

participation in local governance,

marks

and compulsions of household

and the extent to which this

patriarchal control over them and

responsibilities.

participation is an effective tool for

the enjoyment of their rights. Around

Obstructions also arise as a result

empowerment and realization of

85% of Dalit women are pushed into

of Dalit’s caste or sub-caste

human rights for excluded social

Panchayat politics primarily by

assertion, with identity politics

groups.

dominant castes or their husbands,

playing a major role in the electoral

Approximately only one-third of Dalit

the former often working through the

process. Many dominant castes put

wom en, are able to act with

women’s husbands. Dominant

up candidates from a smaller Dalit

independence and freedom to win

castes also for the most part sought

sub-caste, or divide the Dalit vote

the Panchayat elections. Both

to directly engineer elections by

by supporting multiple candidates

personal factors such as education,

consensus, thereby making the

from one Dalit sub-caste. This is

experience on social issues,

reservation policy redundant.

done

motivation to bring development to

Control over the election process is

independent and active Dalit women

their community and others, prior

also achieved through other means,

supporting Dalits’ interests from

performance in panchayats, political

aiming to prevent or discourage the

being nominated for Panchayat

negotiation skills, as well as external

Dalit women from filing nominations,

posts, thereby challenging the norms

factors including family support,

or to force or push them to withdraw

of dominant caste authority and

good relations with other villagers,

their nominations. These include

control. As a result, some dalit

economic stability and family’s

pressure in the forms of caste and

women fail to secure a Panchayat

political contacts, all play a

sexually-based abuse, allegations of

seat. Though India achieved political

supportive role in enabling women

immoral behaviour, threats, bribes

independence from the British, till

to access Panchayat positions.

and vilifying campaigns against

today, the Dalits have not achieved

Given the low social, educational,

wom en’s capacity to govern,

political independence from the

economic and gender status of

physical assaults and property

dominant caste people.

these women, however, they could

destruction. It may also include

Rally

strong,

12

caste-based

in

order

to

obstruct

February 2013


Tanayjeet Das KOLKATA “THERE IS NO HONOUR IN KILLING”.

Dowry Prohibition Act was

“Honour killings” or horror killings — call them by any name, they are just

passed in 1961 but the evil continues

one of many crimes born out of unholy traditions which survive on the

to be part of our social customs.

blood of the innocent. Ironically, any law, no matter how severe it is, will be

People argue that anti-dowry act is

able to check these crimes. It is the mindset of people that makes the

the most misused law but it is also

reason. Cemented over the centuries by the feudal and patriarchal set-

true that women are dying or being

up, changing the mindset of the population today is tougher than the toughest

killed because of dowry even today.

thing in the world. A law might ban khap panchayats or at the most make

As per National Crime Records

“honour is killing”, a non-bailable offence punishable with death penalty.

Bureau, a total of 6,787 dowry death

But “honour killing” will continue to prevail till we convince people, be it the

cases were registered in 2005,

illiterate village folk or the highly educated city dwellers, that what they are

7,618 in 2006, and 8,172 in 2008.

doing is a sin and an immoral act. What does the panchayat do? It remains

It’s an open secret that dowry is part

as a silent spectator!

of over 95% of the marriages taking

Slavery was abolished in America in 1865 and it took over 150 years for Americans to change the mindset and elect

place today. Dowry is illegal but people don’t consider it

a black president. And cases of

immoral. Indians are

racial discrimination are still

groomed in a manner that

reported. Back in India, 60

giving and taking dowry is

years after untouchability

considered to be a status

was abolished, the ill still

symbol. As one moves up

prevails. Dalit suppression

the ladder from law

continues despite a strict law

enforcer to law maker —

and despite Dalits holding

clerk/constable, inspector,

key positions in government.

IPS, IAS, MBA, MP — the

Misuse of the SC/ST

cost

of

the

groom

Prevention of Atrocities Act

increases.

is also rampant but studies

Dowry is also one of the major

reveal that atrocities on

factors behind corruption in

Dalits have increased —

women are raped and

government

system.

After

paraded naked, men are assaulted and killed, their houses are burnt, their

globalization, our desires and greed

children are denied education. All for breaking the code imposed on them

has increased with the increase in

for ages by the brahminical hegemony. What does the panchayat do? It

availability of products in the market.

remains as a silent spectator!

Accordingly, the amount of dowry

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13

February 2013


has also increased. Now a groom with Rs 15,000 plus salary demands a

particular caste, dowry will persist.

car instead of a motorcycle. The girl’s parents are forced pay dowry in

We will have to break the bonds of

order to settle her daughter in marriage. A UNICEF report says that over

caste if the evil is to be eradicated.

47% girls (27% in urban and 56% in rural) in India are being married

Any young man who takes dowry

before the legal age of 18 years, leading to high maternal and neonatal

discredits his education, his country

mortality rate. One of the main reasons parents in rural areas marry their

and dishonours womanhood... men

daughters at the early age (often misfit match) is dowry. What does the

who soil their fingers with such ill-

panchayat do? It remains as a silent spectator!

gotten

Further, the Domestic Violence Act 2005 was brought to protect women

gold

should

comm unicated

from

be

ex-

society.

in the family from mental and physical violence but it has failed to make

Parents of girls should cease to be

any impact. Studies reveal that over 95% of women don’t report domestic

dazzled by English degrees and

violence but still 81,344 domestic violence cases were registered in 2008

should not hesitate to travel outside

and 75,930 in 2007 in courts. The constitution prohibits female feticide but

their little castes and provinces to

every year over one million girls are being killed before their birth. The law

secure true gallant young men for

has neither been able to deter people nor restrain doctors from indulging

their daughters...”

in the heinous crime. Killing the girl child before birth has today taken the

It is not just a mere question

shape of a multi-crore

of what does the panchayat

industry in states like

do? And why should It

Haryana, Punjab and Uttar

remain as a silent spectator?

Pradesh, where the child

Today we need firm

sex ratio has at many

resolute, patience because

places has gone down

reforms will not be overnight

below 750. What does the

and all-round sustained

panchayat do? It remains

effort from spiritual leaders,

as a silent spectator!

social activists, police, state

Clearly, many things made illegal by the law are

and district administration, journalists,

teachers,

considered morally correct by society. The education system has also

lawyers, students, teachers and

failed in inculcating moral values, be it rural or urban population. “Honour

sane voices from among the

killingS” also have a gender angle. Most killings are committed by the girl’s

community itself and above all a

family while the boy’s family reconciles with “ladka hai sub chalta hai”, a

strong political will. Every one of us

girl carries the burden of family honour. If she elopes, her family is labeled

will have to contribute in whatever

to be lacking right “sanskars”, hence unfit for “roti aur beti ka rishta”. For

way we think is feasible. We need

the girl’s family, killing becomes necessary for redemption. Besides killings,

to explain to the “killers” that same

thousands...perhaps lakhs of girls are forced to marry against their wishes.

‘gotra’ is irrelevant in view of the fact

Matrimonial columns show that the most families, even highly educated

that source of all creation in this

ones, prefer same-caste marriages. The youngsters have no freedom of

universe is one almighty God.

choice in choosing their life partner. What does the panchayat do? It

Economically, dowry will have no

remains as a silent spectator

place in marriages based on right

On the dowry system, Gandhi wrote in “Young India” on June 21,

to choice. Those in opposition also

1929, “Marriage must cease to be a matter of arrangement made by parents

need to be told that “honour killing”

for money. The system is intimately connected with caste. So long as the

is no solution.

choice is restricted to a few hundred young men or young women of a Rally 14

February 2013


.......

M.V.Vasant Viswanath India is the largest democratic country in the world. It

migrate to cities, in search of better living conditions

is the country with the largest social and cultural diversity

and wages. Mass exodus of people from rural areas to

too. The Indian population is in race with China now, to

urban cities affects the economic condition of Indian

be the most populated country in the world. We are

villages.

now ahead in the field of science and technology too

The prominence of villages is now at stake. If the

and we are at the peak of achievements… but what

present social set-up prevails, villages and agriculture

about the base, the bottom-line from where does all

will soon be exhibits in our heritage museums. With

this start. As mentioned above, we are in a race with

everyone going after fame and name, we are at the

China for becoming the world’s most populace. Our

verge of losing ethical values and traditions of the villages

population is 1.2 billion as per the latest census. The

and its beauty. We bask on the glory of the past. Even

80% of our population are from villages, which were

if taunted by illiteracy, lack of amenities, superstitions

once hailed as the ‘backbone’ of our country by Gandhi.

etc., our villages still hold on to their integral values.

According to him, the development of our country

Thus, we can save our culture and customs as villagers

started in villages and for this, he put forward the

are the personification of real Indian values. So it is

concept of ‘Panchayati Raj’. Panchayati Raj is the

high time that we, the young people of our country,

oldest system of local government found mainly in

turn a stone to bring about a great change in the lives

countries like India, Pakistan, and Nepal etc.

of our villagers who are now struggling to get a livelihood.

Panchayat means ‘assembly’ (ayat) of five (panch)

After all, how could the body stand straight without

wise and respected elders chosen and accepted by

its backbone??.....

local community. This council of five elderly people stay

PANCHAYATI RAJ IN INDIAN SYSTEM

for the maintenance of law and order, implementation

Gram panchayats are local self-governments at the

of schemes for development of agriculture and other

village or small towns in India and the Sarpanch is in

facilities, establishment of youth organizations,

charge of it. They are in-charge of the development of

development of cottage and small scale industries etc.

the villages in terms of agriculture, economy and the

which in turn helps the villagers who, at present are the

overall growth of the citizens and this can take place

most neglected people in the country. Our country has

only if the sarpanch, deputy sarpanch and panchas

been successful in achieving the topmost honors of

are truly dedicated to the glory and prosperity of the

the world. But have we forgotten our basics? Villages

village and its people. When I talk of overall development

and villagers are now becoming the lost idols of our

of the village, I mean economic, social, political and

country. Due to modernization, people from villages

even the moral reconstruction of the lives of the village February 2013 15

Rally


people. If a panchayat makes sincere efforts to tackle

were molestation cases, rape by other family members

such issues then such panchayats can be called ideal

on the grooms side and in some cases even burned to

panchayats. It is the duty of the government to provide

death(sati). Forty seven years after the demand for

financial support to such panchayats to help them

registered 194 cases of dowry deaths in 2008,

create the required infrastructure in the village. Dowry which is practiced in India is the payment in cash or/and kind by the bride’s family to the bridegroom’s family along with the giving away of the bride (called Kanyadaan) in Indian marriages. The problem started in the early 1920’s and escalated each day more and more into a vicious way of living. This background of sexism is just the foundation that built Dowry death, so there is no doubt that sexism plays a large contribution to a lot of the Dowry ways, if there were no sexism then dowry wouldn’t exist and there wouldn’t be any victims or offenders. One specific case happened in a village of Uttar Pradesh to a woman whose name cannot be disclosed, her husband received the right amount

of

dowry

and

according to data collected from the State Crime Records Bureau (SCRB). Son is the wanted member of the family than a daughter. They value men over women. Indian villages are still backward. They have no exposure to the outer world. They are unable to come out of the past and re-think and give the girls a better life. Official statistics show a steady rise in dowry crimes. More than women are killed every year in Indian villages over dowry. Bihar and Uttar Pradesh still record the maximum number of dowry crimes, - four women reportedly die every day because of dowry harassment and domestic violence. The cases of dowry torture are the highest accounting for 32.4% of crimes against women in the country. Today’s youth is a confused one. Why can’t the village

demanded m ore as the

panchayats undertake the mission of improving the

relationship grew m ore

quality of lives of our youth as far as values are

serious, it was like her

concerned?

family had to pay for him

Why should we think that it is the work of educationists,

to be with her because

social workers and religious leaders only? Giving an

he made them pay more

online dimension to its anti-dowry campaign, the

than just marriage

Nilambur village panchayat in Malappuram district has

dowry. This is now

launched a matrimonial website for those willing to marry

happening not just at

without taking or giving dowry. Apart from helping find

the beginning of the

partners, the site also provides a platform to hold

marriage but after in

discussions on issues like dowry, marriage customs,

som e cases. Dowry

gender justice and matrimonial property rights. The same

has affected people and

or other kinds of improvements are expected from other

their health in a huge

village panchayats as well. I think it is high time that

way since it first started,

panchayats came out of the traditional and narrow mind-

it raised issues that

set as far as functions and duties of them are concerned.

question their economy and

Let not the panchayats be engrossed in issuing

social political rights.

construction licenses, occupancy certificates, and

In 1994 there were 5199

fighting illegal constructions only. They should widen

deaths most of them coming

the scope of the Panchayati Raj system and only then

from Uttar Pradesh in India, they Rally

dowry was made illegal in the country, Tamil Nadu

can the villagers become the true citizens of India. 16

February 2013


THE VILLAGE panchayats are the last organizations but not the least in importance in the ladder of Government machinery and administration. From the early times, the villages in India formed units which were self-sufficient and administered by the gram panchayats for the development of the villages. However, development does not mean only construction of roads and culverts or providing water and electricity to the people. It has other dimensions too that can help convert a voter into a fine citizen. These consist of building the social and moral reconstruction of the village people. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, “Dalits and indigenous peoples (known as Scheduled Tribes or Adivasis) continue to face discrimination, exclusion, and acts of communal violence. Laws and policies adopted by the Indian government provide a strong basis for protection, but are not being faithfully implemented by local authorities”. My survey covers the following cases: 1.

21 Dalits were slaughtered by the Ranvir Sena in Bathani Tola, Bhojpur in Bihar on 11th July 1996. Among the dead were 11 women, six children and three infants. Ranvir Sena mob killed Women and Children in particular as per the design so as to demolish any future resistance which they foresaw. 2. In the village of Melavalavu, in Tamil Nadu’s Madurai district, following the election of a Dalit to the village council presidency, members of a dominant-caste (Thevar) group murdered six Dalits in June 1997, including the elected council president, whom they beheaded. In June 1997, a group of persons attacked Murugesan, vice-president Mookan and others with deadly weapons, resulting in the death of six persons and injuring many others. A total of 40 persons were cited as accused in the case. The trial court convicted Alagarsamy and 16 others and sentenced them to undergo life imprisonment. On appeal, the High Court by its judgment dated April 19, 2006, confirmed the trial court’s order. Alagarsamy and others filed appeals against this judgment. 3. In January 1999 four members of the village panchayat of Bhungar Khera village in Abohar, Punjab paraded a physically challenged Dalit Tanvir Panesar

woman, Ramvati devi naked through the village. No action was taken by the police, despite local Dalit’s protests. It was only on July 20 that the four panchayat members and the head Rameshlal were arrested, after the State Home Department was compelled to order an inquiry `

into the incident.

4. On the evening of January 5, 2006 Bant Singh, a poor Mazhabi, Dalit Sikh, was attacked by unknown assailants. His injuries necessitated medical amputation. He alleges that this was in retaliation for actively working to secure justice for his daughter, who was gang raped by dominant-caste members of his village in Punjab five years earlier. 5. In December 2012 as many as 268 dwellings Rally

17

February 2013


– huts, tiled-roof and one or two- room concrete houses of Dalits (of the Adi-Dravida community) near Naikkankottai in Dharmapuri district of western Tamil Nadu were set on fire by the dominant-caste group. The Madras High Court has stated the incident as serious and instructed the state authorities to submit a status report. The situation is right in front of us. The dalits who are still considered as untouchables are losing their rights and lives in these villages of India. The gram panchayat itself may be one of the reasons for the atrocities against these lower castes. The panchayats have to come out of their narrow mindedness and accept the fact that all types of castes and creeds deserve equal rights. The families who have lost their own members deserve justice! The panchayat has to realize its’ duties towards the well-being of their villages and the people (most importantly). This responsibility of making villages into ideals rests almost entirely with the panchayats. The Panchayati Raj system has to spread its wings so that the traditions and values of us Indians soar high up in the sky. It is through their efforts that poverty, illiteracy, narrow mindedness, disunity and superstition can be removed from the villages. Only then can the villagers become free citizens of free India. For only enlightened citizens can shape India according to Mahatma Gandhi’s dream of ‘swaraja’ and ‘Ram Rajya’.

Jitendra K Lata NT of GUJRAT

PANCHAYATI RAJ is the most effective system in villages but the functioning of the same has led to degradation of peoples’ life. Our ancestors had a wonderful way of administering the powers. They were illiterate but had wisdom to rule and govern the ordinary men and women. The present scenario is that it is the money and power that determines the leader at the village level. The role of village panchayat is vague to the very members. They assume power bribing men and not knowing how to act. In the Tribal areas the allocation of money to various projects are never given a green signal by the Panchayats. The money is shared among the power holders. I like to share the condition of the panchayat building in my village Navalpur in Gujarat: it is so poor that at any time it might collapse. There is no proper electricity connection, lack of sanitary facilities hamper living conditions of the villagers. But the Panchayat caters to the community that offers their vote bank. There is a scheme called “KUVARBAI NU MAMERU” and under this, girls could get money from the government for their marriage. But the sad story is that the tribal people hardly know anything of such schemes. The village panchayat leaders are hand in glove with the Government officials in this process of getting money by producing fake bills and claim the money for themselves. The village panchayat is active only at the time of election campaign and there after no sign of Panchayat that makes significant contribution for the development of the society at large. Though I am pessimistic, it is the reality of village panchayat in India among the dalit and tribal localities. Rally

18

February 2013


Shruti Vyas, Jamshedpur

“Is there anything better in a state than that both women and men be rendered the very best? There is not”. “Rights for women”, “Woman empowerment!”, “Equal rights to women!” So much we talk about women and rights, but how much do we really implement? If we start from the most basic structure of government – the

In 1957, the Balwant Rai

village panchayat- we can see how much of these slogans are being

Mehta committee first

implemented.

prescribed

In a society with uneven distribution of resources both the access

women

and control of any opportunity are in the hands of the “Haves” but not in

participation at grass-

the hands of “have-nots”. Same picture of deprivation and inequality is

root democracy. In 1974,

true between men and women. In a country like India where social

a report on the status of women

(under

chairpersonship

the of

orientation is based on class, caste and gender, the picture of deprivation and inequality is appalling. For so long women were not considered as a social group in their own right, rather they were either included with men or totally ignored in all states of India having a patriarchal set-up characterized by subjugation of females. Though this subordination was

Phulrenu Guha) entitled

glorified in the name of “Devi” or “Mother” and though the strength of

“Towards Equality”

women was recognized by the nationalist leaders; very few women could

also called for removal

break free from social shackles owing to the pressure to conform to convention.

of disparities against

What they tried: The reforms of the 19th century encouraged the women

women.

to establish their identity through the formation of Mahila Samitees and Smt. Sarala Devi Chowdhuri (1910) and Saroj Nalini Dutta (1913) were trailblazers in this respect. Subsequently, women participation increased during the non-co-operation movement (1921); Civil Disobedience movement (1931) and Quit India movement (1942). Both the Swadeshi movement and Gandhi-led Congress party inspired women to play an active role in the freedom movement. In 1957, the Balwant Rai Mehta committee first prescribed women participation at grass-root democracy. In 1974, a report on the status of women (under the chairpersonship of Phulrenu Guha) entitled “Towards Equality” also called for removal of disparities against women. This report recommended the following three policy prescriptions:

Rally

A.

Political parties should set a quota for women candidates,

B.

The establishment of women panchayats as a transitional measure, 19

February 2013


C. Allotting a block of seats to women in municipal councils. It was in the sixth year plan (1980-85) when a separate section on Women’s development was included. The Committee on Panchayati Raj Structures (1977-78) emphasized the need for village level women’s organizations to influence both the implementing and monitoring aspects of development planning. In 1978, Ashok Mehta committee also recommended women’s participation not only in development but also in

seats at Zilla Parishad level , 33.64

the direct decision-making process.

% at Panchayat Samiti level and

Constitutional Provision

34.94 %

1.

Balwant Rai Mehta Committee suggested provision for the co-

Panchayat

option of two women members in panchayats.

reserved for women. Thus from

Ashok Mehta Committee recommended two women securing

these statistics we can plainly say

the highest number of votes among the women candidates

that though the Indian Constitution

take the seats reserved for them in panchayats.

guarantees equal rights for men and

Only one or two women were co-opted in panchayats before

women, it is found that a majority of

1992 in a group of 15 to 19 members.

women do not enjoy their rights. In

33 percent reservation in all the three tiers of panchayati raj

the rural areas women are not even

institutions for women.

aware of their basic rights.

2.

3. 4.

seats level

at

Gram –

have

been

For the interests of the weaker sections of the population, notably

The fact remains that women

women, SCs and STs, an amendment in the Constitution of India took

are now legally empowered to

place in the year 1993. This 73 and 74 Constitutional Amendments

participate in the decision making

made it obligatory that one-third of the seats must be reserved for women.

processes of their village. Over the

Not only that, in all the offices of the local governments, both in rural and

years, there has been a shift from

urban areas, one-third of total seats should be reserved for women. This

proxy

ensures the participation of women in local decision-making process.

submissiveness to a situation where

rd

th

candidature

and

Through the amendment (1993) this reservation policy was

there is increasing number of cases

incorporated in the Panchayat Act. Not only that all the Gram Panchayats

where women have started handling

have constituted five Upa-Samitis (introduced in the Act in 2003) among

the panchayat affairs confidently

which “Nari O Sishu Unnayan O Samaj Kalyan” would look after the

and efficiently. Numerous examples

women and children. Participation of grass root women at gram panchayats

m ay be cited from across the

level has been also ensured by the amendment (1992) putting the provision

country where women have

of Gram-sansad compulsory twice in a year.

demonstrated their initiatives – in

What the conditions are at present: In 1993 election, it was found

taking the lead in construction of link

that at three tiers out of total seats, 59.13 % were reserved out of which

roads, building schools to closing

35% seats were reserved for the women. But no reservation was allowed

down of liquor shops. The fact

against the office-bearer post. This barrier was withdrawn in 1998.

remains that increasing numbers of

Now it is already 14 years past after the amendments. The states

women are standing up to the

have also witnessed the election of 2003. Present scenario of women

challenge, carving their own space

participation in local governments are as follows : More than 33% seats

in the political structure and voicing

are occupied by the women in 15 districts at gram panchayat level , in

their opinions.

11 districts

This a good sign. We are on the

at panchayat samiti level and in 11 districts at zilla

parishad level. At

panchayat samiti level there is

less than 33%

reservation for women. On an average in all the districts 34.23 % of Rally 20

move towards a bright future…..! February 2013


By Sohaila Abdulali

Rape is horrible. But it is not horrible for all the reasons that have been drilled into the heads of Indian women. It is horrible because you are violated, you are scared, someone else takes control of your body and hurts you in the most intimate way. It is not horrible because you lose your “virtue.” T H I R T Y- T W O

When I fought to

years ago, when I

live that night, I hardly

was 17 and living

knew what I was

in Bombay, I was

fighting for. A male

gang raped and

friend and I had gone

nearly killed. Three

for a walk up a

years

later,

mountain near my

outraged at the

home. Four armed

silence

and

men caught us and

m isconceptions

made us climb to a

around rape, I

secluded spot, where

wrote

they raped me for

a

fiery

essay under my own name describing my experience

several hours, and beat both of us. They argued among

for an Indian women’s magazine. It created a stir in

themselves about whether or not to kill us, and finally

the women’s movement — and in my family — and

let us go.

then it quietly disappeared. Then, last week, I looked at

At 17, I was just a child. Life rewarded me richly

my e-mail and there it was. As part of the outpouring of

for surviving. I stumbled home, wounded and

public rage after a young woman’s rape and death in

traumatized, to a fabulous family. With them on my

Delhi, somebody posted the article online and it went

side, so much came my way. I found true love. I wrote

viral. Since then, I have received a deluge of messages

books. I saw a kangaroo in the wild. I caught buses

from people expressing their support.

and missed trains. I had a shining child. The century

It���s not exactly pleasant to be a symbol of rape.

changed. My first gray hair appeared.

I’m not an expert, nor do I represent all victims of rape.

Too many others will never experience that. They

All I can offer is that — unlike the young woman who

will not see that it gets better, that the day comes when

died in December two weeks after being brutally gang

one incident is no longer the central focus of your life.

raped, and so many others — my story didn’t end, and

One day you find you are no longer looking behind

I can continue to tell it. Rally

you, expecting every group of men to attack. One day February 2013 21


you wind a scarf around your throat without having a flashback to being choked. One day you are not frightened anymore. Rape is horrible. But it is not horrible for all the reasons that have been drilled into the heads of Indian women. It is horrible because you are violated, you are scared, someone else takes control of your body and hurts you in the most intimate way. It is not horrible because you lose your “virtue.” It is not horrible because your father and your brother are dishonored. I reject the notion that my virtue is

With those of us who are raising the next generation. It

lies in teaching our sons and daughters to become located in m y vagina, just as I liberated, respectful adults who know that men who reject the notion

hurt women are making a choice, and will be punished.

that men’s brains

hum iliated. Not because of my family’s honor, but because she trusts the world and it is infinitely painful to

are in their genitals.

think of her losing that trust. When I look back, it is not

If we take honor out of the equation, rape will still be horrible, but it will be a personal, and not a societal,

the 17-year-old me I want to comfort, but my parents. They had the job of picking up the pieces.

horror. We will be able to give women who have been

This is where our work lies, with those of us who

assaulted what they truly need: not a load of rubbish

are raising the next generation. It lies in teaching our

about how they should feel guilty or ashamed, but

sons and daughters to become liberated, respectful

empathy for going through a terrible trauma.

adults who know that men who hurt women are making

The week after I was attacked, I heard the story of

a choice, and will be punished.

a woman who was raped in a nearby suburb. She came

W hen I was 17, I could not have imagined

home, went into the kitchen, set herself on fire and

thousands of people marching against rape in India,

died. The person who told me the story was full of

as we have seen these past few weeks. And yet there

admiration for her selflessness in preserving her

is still work to be done. We have spent generations

husband’s honor. Thanks to my parents, I never did

constructing elaborate systems of patriarchy, caste and

understand this.

social and sexual inequality that allow abuse to flourish.

The law has to provide real penalties for rapists

But rape is not inevitable, like the weather. We need to

and protection for victims, but only families and

shelve all the gibberish about honor and virtue and did-

communities can provide this empathy and support.

“We must learn to live together as she-lead-him-on brothers, orand wecould-he-help-himself. are going to We need How will a teenager participate in the prosecution of to put responsibility where it lies: on men who violate perish together as fools.” her rapist if her family isn’t behind her? How will a wifeLuther women, andJr. on all of us who let them get away with it Martin King, charge her assailant if her husband thinks the attack

while we point accusing fingers at their victims.

was “God more of has an affront to him than a violation of her? to suit Sohaila Abdulali is the author of thetimes novel “Year of made different religions different aspirations, At 17, Icountries...one thought the scariest thing that could happen and can reach Godthe if Tiger.” one follows any of the paths Source:http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/08/opinion/after-beingin mywith life waswholehearted being hurt and humiliated in such a painful devotion.” way. At 49, I know I was wrong: the scariest thing is

raped-i-was-wounded-my-honor-wasnt.html?_r=0

Ramakrishna, a Hindu Mystic

imagining my 11-year-old child being hurt and Rally

22

February 2013


CASTEISM and caste based discrimination is still rampant in most of the Panchayats in Tamilnadu. For example, my village is divided into two parts today by the Panchayat Election. The President of my Panchayat will do most favours only for his own caste people. He never bothers about the remaining people. This is happening not only in my village but in most of the other villages also. In some of the villages in Tamilnadu, the girl children are sent to receive education to towns and cities. They never continue their studies after they attain Puberty. The reason is, there are many dominant caste people (Caste Hindus) living there. If a dalit girl attains puberty, they’ll ruin her life without pity. They will blackmail them not to express it out. So, many of the affected girls don’t come forward to express out of fear. But if any one among them comes to complaint against them in Panchayat, the Panchayat members who belong to dominate caste never take severe action on those demons. They will give them a minimum punishment with fine. If a dalit becomes a President of the Panchayat, he can’t do anything with his power. Other members who belong to dominant caste will be a block to him always. This is happening still in most of the village in Tamil Nadu. One incident happened in Tamil Nadu recently. A dalit woman village President was stopped from hoisting the national flag during Independence Day. This issue was not spoken at all. We should seriously consider the Village which is following this shameful caste system. A Village development is more important before we talk of India’s growth. Yet it is highly difficult and at times appears to be impossible. Will our Government take much care on Villages??? J. Sridhar, NDC Convenor, St. Joseph’s College, Trichy.

1.

Don’t live in India - Migrate to Bharat instead. - RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

2.

Don’t eat chowmein. - Khap Panchayat

3.

Don’t go out with boys in the night.

4.

Don’t wear jeans. Fashion is strictly prohibited. - too many people to mention

5.

Get married when you are 16 years old. - Khap Panchayat

6.

Don’t use mobile. - Some Panchayat in UP

7.

Don’t cross Maryada - MP Minister Kailash Vijayvargiya

8.

Say NO to anything remotely connected to western culture - RSS Chief Mohan Bhagwat

9.

Perform puja to put “stars” in correct “position”. - Chhattisgarh Home Minister Nanki Ram Kanwar

- Abu Azmi of Samajwadi Party

And if everything mentioned above fails and you are still being raped, here is the last weapon 10. Call your rapist “Bhaiya”. - Spiritual Guru Asaramji Bapu Rally

23

February 2013


Renisha Mall

MUMBAI and Pune, the AICUF Units of Maharashtra State celebrated its 14 th AICUF annual day on 19th20th January, 2013. We were privileged to have Fr. Selvin Raj, SJ, the National Advisor and Ms. Philomena Gomes, the National Full timer for the celebration. It was a memorable event; an entire package of fun and knowledge. It was a two day event. The event started by late evening followed by a seminar. After the conclusion of the event, 22 AICUFers from Pune, arrived in Mumbai to celebrate the AICUF annual day along with the Mumbai unit. After an early morning arrival, all were as energetic as ever and turned up at 8 am in the chapel for mass, celebrated by Fr. Roy Pereira, SJ, the AICUF State advisor of Maharashtra. Since the day was vocation Sunday, Fr. Roy stated that AICUF too has a vocation (Call). One is called to render full support to the marginalized section of society. During the Eucharistic celebration, all of us gathered around the table, to celebrate the 3rd part of the mass, ie, ‘Breaking of the bread’. It was a fresh start to all the wonderful activities that world happen in the day. After breakfast, a short session was taken up by Dr. Kunal Oswal, BDS, MPH, Tobacco treatment specialist, and project manager at TATA Rally

hospital for “Tobacco Victim Campaign”. He shared with us the ill-effects of tobacco and also shared with us his experience with his grandfather who died of mouth cancer. It is always a tedious process for the family to continuously support the victim. It has always been a challenge to put across strong messages to people who are addicted. It’s a serious health issue. Everyone was taken aback when he shared various case studies. Later, after this session, it came to the main part of the event, the release of the AICUFer, the annual AICUF state magazine of Maharashtra. It was released by the Fr. Selvin Raj Sj our National Adviser. Sixteen girls from the Ashadeep Association, an NGO that takes care of orphans, were invited to interact with the students. Quelling workshop was conducted by Ms. Carel Pereira and Ms. Cassandra Rodrigues. The girls also performed a small traditional Maharashtrian dance dedicated to Lord Ganpathi. Then we broke for lunch served by ‘Taste of Kerela’. Later, we screened a movie, “The 24

Accused”. A movie on Rape; to sensitize the students to this issue. Fr. Selvin led the talk, explaining the need for each of us to be aware and protect the rights of our fellow beings. A play on ‘National Integration’ was put up by ‘Naujawan-e-hind’, a play group. Street theater is one way where masses can be made aware of the existing situation through entertainment. It was a commendable job put up by the team. To sum up the entire event, Mr. Jinendra Jain, trustee of Jeevan Seva Sanshta, a NGO supporting various underprivileged people across the country, helped us understand the need for ‘Action’. He also asked each and everyone to take an oath to ‘Say no to Tobacco’. It was this event that everyone at first hesitated, but on this special day, many students raised their hands to support the cause. Fr. Selvin then addressed the AICUFers stressing the need for each one of us to play a role of an AICUFer in society. W e were privileged to have his words of wisdom from his experience with youth to end another successful AICUF Year. It was then followed by a short JAM session and the distribution of certificates. Thanks to one and all! February 2013


From State Secretariate T.N.

THE TAMIL NADU state AICUF conducted a state

prevailing in politics and on the quality of education in the state.

level youth leadership convention on the theme ‘Youth , let us

Finally we had Mrs. Radha who expressed the violation of

hold our heads high and lead as leaders’ to emphasize on the

women’s rights in media. The audience then interacted with

leadership of the youth in today’s situation. It was held on the

the panelists, who clarified their doubts and queries. After lunch, the participants were divided into 15 groups.

12 and 13 January 2013 in the Jubilee Building, St. Joseph’s th

th

College, Trichy.

They were given time to have group discussion on two topics

Day-1: National youth day, 150th Anniversary of Swami

each and were asked to prepare charts on the given topics.

Vivekananda

Members of the State Executive committee supervised and

We first had Prof. Vimal Gerald, the state Animator,

extended their assistance to all groups. After the tea break, we had the release of book titled

briefing the gathering about the motive behind the convention and its need.

‘Social Exclusion’ written by Dr. Kannupillai, former ADGP-

The convention commenced with the inaugural

Gujrat, which had been translated into Tamil by Dr.A.Antony

ceremony, invoking God’s blessings with a prayer song and

Cruz. The Chief Guests were Rev. Fr. Arockiasamy Xavier

lighting of the lamp by the chief guests, Rev. Fr. John Britto,

and Dr. Manimekalai.

Rev. Fr. Francis Xavier, Rev. Fr. Arul Oli and the guest of honour

The participants were then given time to prepare a street

Mr. Christhudas Gandhi –IAS. The welcome address was given

play or mime or present a song on the topic given earlier. After

by Rev. Fr. Joseph Ignaci, the State Adviser, who said that

dinner we had the chart presentations of the various groups

youth leadership is vital for the emancipation of society. The

and value based entertainment, which showed that they had

guests were then honoured with shawls and mementos.

done good discussion, had planned and practiced well.

Rev. Fr. John Britto S.J, Principal, St. Joseph’s College,

Day -2: Pongal

Trichy, mentioned that the youth were the major resource of

Being a Pongal day – the regional harvest festival, a

our country and elucidated the advantage of being AICUFers.

special mass was celebrated by Fr. Lazar, the Vice Principal,

Rev. Fr. Francis Xavier, spoke on the capabilities of the youth.

St. Joseph’s College, Trichy After a meaningful mass all of us

Rev. Fr. Arul Oli, spoke about youth and their tendencies. Mr.

had our breakfast, after which the first session was held.

Christhudas Gandhi –IAS, elaborated on the uniqueness of

An interactive discussion was held on the theme “The

youth and how the youth could become perfect and dynamic

Contribution and Participation of Youth in Today’s Situation”,

leaders.

which was led by Rev. Fr. Henry Jerome. The key speakers

After a short break at 11.30, we had a panel discussion

were Bro. Williams on corruption, Ms. Santhya on the lack of

on the topic “Tamil Nadu’s present situation- an analysis”. It

electricity prevailing in the state, Mr. Manikandan on the Sri

was headed by Dr.A. Antony

Lankan issue, Mr. Robinson

Cruz. Mr. Paul Newman, gave

on the Violation of Human

the history of Sri Lanka and the

Rights and Mr. Kanakaraj

real issue and what we as

spoke about the issues of the

AICUFers and Tamil youth

youth.

could do to change the

After the break, the

situation. We then had Mrs.

State Ex-Co taught us some

Bala Bharathi, an MLA, who

awareness

spoke on the corruption

presented a power point

Rally

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song

and

February 2013


presentation highlighting the

Sathish Kumar, the State Full

value of leadership. After the

Timer, the Members of the

lunch, we had a session by

State Executive Council and

Mr.U.Sahayam IAS, an anti

the

corruption activist, who gave a

Committee.

Local

Organising

very motivational speech on

Cultural programs were

how the youth could play a

put up by the AICUFers which

catalytic role in building

featured the traditional dance

society.

forms:

Oyilattam,

Kaliyalattam and Paraiattam.

After the tea break, the

A mime on the havoc wrecked

participants undertook a rally from Holy Cross College, which was flagged off by the

by mobile phones and a street play on women issues,

principal, till the Cathram bus stand. Finally all gathered for

violations of basic human rights were staged. The vote of

the closing ceremony, which was presided by Rev. Fr. John

thanks was delivered by Rev. Fr. Joseph Ignaci, the State

Britto S.J, Principal, St. Joseph’s College Trichy. Mr. Srinivasan,

Adviser. The function ended with the National Anthem.

Asst. Commissioner of Police, Dr. Nandalala, and Mrs. Christy

An evaluation was conducted and it was a great pleasure

Subhadra, Director of Crea Children Educational Trust, who

to know that all were pleased with the convention, the

spoke encouraging the youth and addressed all the issues

arrangement and the information provided. All the participants

plaguing society. Also on the dais were Rev. Fr. Joseph Ignaci,

left for their homes after dinner. This program proved to be

the State Adviser, Prof. Vimal Gerald, the State Animator, Mr.

another feather in the cap of the Tamil Nadu State AICUF.

Fr. Jacob Kujur, S.J.

27TH JANUARY 2013, was a day of joy and development of personality for the AICUfers of Loyola College Kunkuri, Jashpur, C.G. Eighty AICUFers, started their trip to the river bank of Ib, 9 km from the College. As they reached the spot, they

were instructed about the aim and objec-

tive of the event that it was the day to enjoy

at the same time an occasion of person-

ality development through deferent activi-

ties to be conducted. They were divided

into four groups and different responsibili-

ties were assigned to them with regard to

the preparation of the meal. All got busy to

bag the prize for the best and quickest

preparation. Most of them enjoyed them-

selves through different games and fun,

while the others continued their effort to

bag the prize. After the delicious lunch

they had the opportunity to know one an-

other through the dance of ‘people to

people’. And then all got busy in finding the

treasure, hidden under the sand. Nutan

was the one who could find it first. On find-

ing it all rejoiced dancing in theirrespective

groups first and in the end together, con-

tinuing it till they departed.

All the activities of the day were taken

care by the AICUFers themselves. They

planned for the day, executed it, including

purchasing, conducting the programme

and making all the necessary arrangements

with minimum direction. Everything was

well done. In this way it was the day of joy and an occasion of personality development for each one of the AICUFers. Rally

26

February 2013


JHEASA

AICUF National Team & participants Inaugural Ceremony

Principal of Loyola College Chennai. He made us think about

The JHEASA National Seminar-2013 began officially on

the relationship between integrity and prosperity. He stated

13 Jan. The members were greeted traditionally by applying

that real prosperity refers to being happy and being satisfied

yellow TEEKA and also with a blue TEEKA that symbolized

with what we are and what we have. A special prayer song

the marginalized. Miss. Philomena, NFT-AICUF, welcomed the

“There shall be showers of blessing” was sung by the national

dignitaries and participants of different Jesuit Colleges who

team members. A word of thanks at the end of the inaugural

came from all over India. It was followed by a prayer led by

ceremony was proposed by Mr. Sam Jacob.

th

Miss. Natalia, NT-KARNATAKA. Fr. Selvin, the National Advisor,

Dynamics of the programme was given by Mr. Franklin.

welcomed the gathering. The guests present were: Fr.

He explained to us how to put together our talents for

Boniface Jayaraj-Principal, Fr. S. Arockiasami-Deputy

something good. He went through the points on how media

Principal, Loyola College, Dr.G.John- National Animator, AICUF,

influences our life. He also stressed on the need of having a

Fr. K. Amal -Rector and Mr. Frankline- the AICUF National

good positive relationship between with opposite genders. He

Convener.

said that seminar succeeds only if youth begin to act to bring

Fr. Selvin explained the details of JHEASA National Seminar and AICUF’s association with JHEASA. He told that

a change. Announcements were made by Philomena regarding discipline and punctuality during the programme.

the programme was a combined effort of AICUF and students

Fr. Ignacimuthu SJ has his session on “skills and qualities

of Jesuit institutions all over India. He also thanked the NT

of effective life.” He was welcomed by Ms. Lizane and he was

members for their planning and organization.

presented with a memento by Ms. Mona. He pointed out that

The lamp was lit by the dignitaries. They were joined by

everyone needs to be happy in life and for this we need to

Mr. Franklin, National Convenor of AICUF and Viola Minz, the

utilize our capabilities to the maximum. For this we need to

student representative. Fr. K. Amal encouraged us by pointing

be what we are and become what we are actually capable of.

out how to manage and build humanity and good nature. He

He also stated that attitude makes all the difference. By quoting

said we need to look into our integral formation. Fr. Arockia

Norman Vincent, he said that positive thinking helps to increase

Sami described the difference

productivity, solves problems

between prosperity and

and creates team work. He

progress.

Prof.G.John

told us to imagine that

stressed on the importance of

everyday will be a good day

communication from the time

for us. He insisted that

of our birth till our death.

change begins from us. He

Inaugural address was given

was thanked by Ms. Calvin. We were divided into

by Fr. B. Jayaraj SJ, the Rally

27

February 2013


two groups and ten from each group were called to play a

quotation by simply putting a slash between the word that is in

balloon breaking game. Then we were allowed to compete in

the “USA there is nowhere an opportunity for the black.

the mini-fete arranged by the National Team. This helped us

NOWHERE became NOW HERE”. He gave a broader

to break our ice and mingle easily with each other. After the

explanation on conscious, sub-conscious and unconscious

fete we were led by the NTs to the ground for a better

stage of mind. He transformed AIR into AIRE.

interaction and we all gathered together for a tribal dance

A

Aspiration to know oneself. And aim for higher goals.

initiated by Mr. Chandan Kujur.

I

Inspiration. People should know you are different

In the afternoon we had an interesting session by Fr. Emmanuel SJ, Deputy Director of LIBA. He told us that

and unique. R

everyone has a belief system and each one communicates it

Respiration. It doesn’t necessarily means breathing air but putting life into others.

differently. Our thoughts and actions depend on our

E

experiences. He also helped us to understand the idea with

You only have to write on it. Don’t let others take the task of

many stories and examples. He also taught us the difference

writing in it. He was given the token of appreciation by Mr.

between verbal and non-verbal communication. He said that

Ambros. Fr. Selvin briefed about the programme for 14th Jan

we may always have some prejudices that rule our thinking

2013. It was decided that group-1 will be going to Mercy Home

and actions. Ms. Adrena gave the vote of thanks.

at Chetpet in Chennai and group-2 will be going to leprosy

In the evening we had another session by Prof. Alex

Education. Each student is like an empty slate.

Colony at Bethal Nagar in Chengalpattu.

Parimalam on “Social network and their impact on youth.” He

The famous harvest festival of Tamil Nadu- PONGAL,

explained us various points like: BIG SCREEN, MINI SCREEN,

was celebrated in traditional way by all the participants of JHEASA. The programme was guided by Fr. Selvin, where all of us celebrated it by dancing and singing. In the end pongal was served to us by Mr. Manickam and Mrs.Mary, for which we are whole heartily thankful to the AICUF House Care Takers. We had our breakfast at Loyola College and dispersed for the exposure. Experience according to each group: GROUP 1: We made a visit to the Mercy Home. Boys visited the gents’ ward and girls went to the women’s ward. Students

SMALL SCREEN and FINGER TIP SCREENS. He explained

interacted with the people over there and spent a quality time

the impact which they have in our life. He also compared the

knowing them and their lives. We staged a cultural

attitude of earlier generations and our generation towards these

programme at Mercy Home to entertain and bring smiles on

screens, how it has become a cosmetic and relaxation idea

the faces of old people staying over there following which the

of our generation to use the theatres. Next point he discussed

prayer service was conducted. After this students shared their

was MEDIA SATURATION. He discussed three levels of

thoughts to each other at Mercy Home premises. We felt that

attitude towards media: primary level, secondary level and

the world is not so fair to everyone but for these old people

tertiary level. He also discussed the positive and negative side

Mercy Home is like a blessing and would not allow this to

of the media screens. He discussed on how media influenced

happen to their grandparents and parents.

our thinking. He emphasized to ask our self some questions

GROUP 2:

like “for whose benefit Media are present and to what extend we should tolerate ourselves to be fully immersed in it.

We boarded our train to Chengalpattu, Goodwill Leprosy Home. Many of us had the experience of travelling for the first

Fr. Paul Raj SJ, handled a session on “Communication

time in the local Train. It was full of fun and thrill in the crowded

with oneself.” He began his session by taking the example of

train. We reached Chengalpattu and from there we took auto

Martin Luther King that how he changed the concept of a

rickshaw to Bhetel Nagar. Over there the group was dived

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28

February 2013


into 5 sub groups who visited different families suffering from

and always being ready and eager to learn. We were

Leprosy. Students felt that nothing is impossible: what matters

entertained by a talent show which was the end of another

is your attitude. They have seen people over there who are

wonderful day of experience and learning.

knowledgeable and are willing to work hard even though they

Day 3: On 15th of January 2013, early in the morning we travelled

have so much difficulty in their life. After the exposure in the evening Fr. Selvin shared on,

in a bus to marina beach and reached there. We walked

“Communication and societal relationship”. He was welcomed

towards the beach and as we reached the shore, we were

by Albin Thomas. We started by singing a very famous action

asked to carry on meditation and feel one with the nature. We

song, “walking in the light of God” but in an innovative way

enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere at the beach. We could

instructed by father. We walked to everyone shook hands with

breathe fresh air and feel the presence of God through the

them and learnt few more names and got to know a few more

roaring of the waves and gusting of the wind.

people. Later a chit with a value written on it was given to

At 11:00 am Fr. Albert Muthumalai SJ, the JHEASA

each person and that was our new identity. A game similar to

Secretary, was present with us. Fr. Albert was welcomed by

“Housi-Housi” was explained to us in which each of us had to

the Seminar participants. The NT members enacted a skit

get a sign from the person whose value matches in the sheet

depicting how the behavior and personality of a man changes

of paper given to us. Through the game we were taught a new

depending on the people he has around him. This introduced

lesson. Fr. Selvin spoke about the importance of values in us

us to the topic-”Peer group communication” which Dr. G. John

and the need for it and stated that values are caught and not

later spoke and conducted a session on, “Communication with

taught. We were asked to remember a person who holds that

peer group”, he explained the term “pressure, and the types

value in his/her life and share why we have chosen that person

of pressure”, for further comprehension we were divided into

who has that particular value. It got us to realize our own values

6 groups and were asked to enact on the topics and types of

and the respect we have for others because of their value

pressure. This helped us differentiate and understand the

choice.

concept in a better way. Dr. G John later concluded by giving

“Engua Enge” a song in action was sung at the start of

us some guidelines through which we could overcome

the session. We were then divided into group and given a

problems. We then were served tea and were back into the

sheet of paper with different characters chosen from a circus

hall for the summation of the camp by Dr. G John. Some action

arena. We were asked to relate ourselves to the characters

songs and games were conducted, which refreshed our

and also people in our lives that reminded us about the

minds. Then the second half of the session was commenced

characters with those specific values.

by Fr. Selvin on “Friendship and Love”. We again were divided

The next session on experience sharing was handled by

into groups and had a healthy and good discussion on a

Dr. Gladstan and Dr. Florina together. We were asked to sub

simulation story named “The Island Affair” that was given to

divide our already divided groups into 3 more groups. The

us. After that we all participated in the Valedictory Mass

group 1 and 2 that visited the leprosy home and old age home

presided over by Fr. Albert and concelebrated by Fr. Selvin. All

were asked to prepare a skit, song and 2 panel members for

the participants of the National Seminar were awarded with

a discussion. With certain rules like using least words to give

participation certificates by Fr. Albert, the Secretary, JHEASA.

out the message, coming up with own lyrics and song tune to

Thus the National Seminar on “Integrity towards

bring out our originality and creativity. All these were based on

Prosperity” reached its successful conclusion by singing “we

our experiences from the exposure. All members actively took

shall overcome” by all the participants and organising team of

part in the activities, fully enthusiastic and thrilled. We were

this memorable event. We look forward to such useful

given 20 minutes to prepare and everyone was in action. We

seminars and come back to AICUF House once again if

then concluded by a good message from Dr. Galdstan. He

possible. The next day we all departed to our colleges in our

spoke about what the disease is really and how we need to

respective states. We thank JHEASA and AICUF for providing

respond to it as an integral part of the society. He suggested

us this wonderful chance to be part of this National seminar.

that all of us should inculcate the habit of asking questions Rally

29

February 2013


Philomena Gomes National Full-timer

ALONG with our National Adviser, I arrived in Anand on 22

nd

January 2013 evening. We were welcomed at the Railway station by the SFT, NT and another AICUFer from the state. After arriving at Ashadeep Social Service Centre which is the State AICUF office, we had a meeting over dinner with the state advisor Fr. Amalraj SJ. In the meeting he informed us about the schedule of our visit and also made prior arrangements for it. The next day afternoon we left for Ahmadabad St. Xavier’s college meeting with the principal Fr. Robert and Sr. Mary James to revive AICUF in the college which is the only Jesuit College in the state. We had a lengthy discussion after which sister was very enthusiastic to revamp AICUF through the present units there in the college. While having dinner we had a meeting with Fr. Vijay SJ, the Next State Advisor of AICUF Gujarat regarding hosting a summer camp. He gave us suggestions which the NT will research on. The next day we went back to Ashadeep for an encounter with the Members of AGSDM which is a movement affiliated to AICUF. Fr. Selvin enlightened the students about humanness and humanity in forgetting male and female characters. There was a sharing of mebers in Gujarati relating to their participation in the National AICUF activities, Jitendra, NT of Gujarat, spoke to the students about AICUF, its tie ups and relations with states and other international bodies. We were accompanied by Fr. Amal Raj SJ for the official group photo. With this we ended the visit in Gujarat with the feeling of oneness with the students there. MAHARASTRA - PUNE & MUMBAI AICUF UNITS Our visit to Maharashtra state AICUF was divided into two days as 19th January 2013 in Pune unit and 20th January 2013 in Mumbai unit for the AICUF Day celebration. Our National Adviser Fr Selvin SJ accompanied me for the visit as we had orientation cum visit planned for both the units. Before we met the students we were accompanied by the Unit Advisor, Fr James Selvaraj SJ, Dr. Anil, College Principal, Prof. Gilbi John the Unit Adviser and the unit officials for a meeting regarding the unit and its various activities. The orientation began at 6pm at St. Vincent College, Pune. Around 50 students gathered and we were given time to meet the former and incoming office bearers of the unit and students separately. We shared the desire to organise a summer camp in the state of Maharashtra, leadership in AICUF and various other matters were discussed pertaining to the state and unit. While in discussion with the members we shared the AICUF ideology and importance of developing critical consciousness in every AICUF student. The interaction continued for more than two hours which ended with a healthy debate on social issues. The same night along with twenty students we travelled to Mumbai St. Xavier’s College to be a part of the AICUF day. The day started with Holy mass conducted by the State Advisor Fr. Roy Pereira SJ. Sessions on anti-tobacco, launch of the AICUFer magazine, debate, critical analysis of the movie “The Accused” based on the gang rape case, talk by Fr. Selvin on AICUF and its active role in revitalizing the students’ activism, street play by a local group and sessions by some NGO officials. Overall the day ended with reasoning and understanding the presence of inhumanity in and around us. The interaction with the students was strong. The most attractive part was the debate on “Gender sensitivity” where all the students actively participated and contributed as well. The following day we proceeded to Anand for the Gujarat AICUF State visit. Rally

30

February 2013


Sam Jacob, West Bengal

“UNITY IN DIVERSITY” is

inspiration from it. (Harijan, 4-1-

the famous phrase which we all use

1948) “Contemporary accounts of

for India -the country where people

the Panchayati Raj System present

have freedom and rights to live a

gloomy picture of the ill- fated

comfortable life. The democratic

system, fraught with inequalities in

features of India are pilled in the

power structure, in sharp contrast

constitution and in the mind of the citizens but in reality there is no practical

to Gandhi’s view. In the wake of the

implementation of these features. Those operating at higher circle of power,

high handed power wielded by the

are endowed with the mandate of establishing equality in society, instead

system across the country, the

they are misusing their powers by generating gap between poor and rich,

government

touchable and untouchables.

commendable job, by attempting to

One of the oldest systems of local government in the Indian subcontinent is - Panchayat Raj System. The word “Panchayat” literally

has

done

a

curtail the power of the Panchayati Raj System.

means “assembly” (ayat) of five (panch) wise and respected elders chosen

It may however be argued, that

and accepted by the local community. Traditionally these assemblies act

the weaker section must be

as the arbiter of disputes between individuals and society. Every village,

protected against the prejudices of

Gandhi opined, should be self-sufficient as a unit. He believed that

the society, and it is the mandate of

independence must begin at the grass root level. Thus, every village will be

The Panchayati Raj System, to

republic or Panchayat having full power. Here, Gandhi emphasis on broader

explain in more clear terms, the

functions of the panchayat, for the socio-economic uplift of nation and its

rationale behind protecting these

citizens. “It is the function of the Panchayat to revive honesty and

minorities. Due to this people are

industry….It is the function of the Panchayats to teach the villagers to

unaware of the basic rights which

avoid disputes, if they have to settle them. This will ensure speedy justice

are provided by the State such as

without any expenditure. You will need neither the police nor the military.

RTI, RTE, NAREGA etc… As one

The Panchayat should also see an increase in the quantity of foodstuff

of the features states that there

grown in their village. This is to be accomplished by properly maturing the

should be reservation of seats for

soil. You have your indigenous games. You should banish intoxicating

schedule tribe and schedule caste

drinks and drugs from your midst. I hope you will eradicate untouchability

and women (not less than 1/3rd

if there is any trace of it still in your village. The Hindus, the Muslims, the

seats). But when the marginalized

Sikhs, the Parsees and the Christians should all live as brothers and sisters.

or backward members are elected,

If you achieve all I have mentioned, you will demonstrate real independence,

these members many a times are

and people from all over India will come to see your model village and take Rally 31

criticized and even they don’t get February 2013


cooperation and support from other members of panchayat. Such

its writ through social boycotts and

embarrassment, force them to resign from their posts and even they commit

fines and in most cases end up

crime like suicide. This in turn brings the same situation of inequality in

either killing or forcing the victims

village.

to commit suicide. All this is done in

Another most prevailing form of panchayat in India is “KHAP

the name of brotherhood and its

PANCHAYAT “. Gram panchayat should not to be confused with the

honour. After analyzing the worst

unelected KHAP PANCHAYAT (or caste panchayat). Khap is a cluster of

part of society what strikes our mind:

villages united by caste and geography. It is as old as 14th century started

Is this what we have learned from

by dominant caste jats to consolidate their power and position. The main

brotherhood? Where has the effort

rule is that all boys and girls within a khap are considered siblings. Khap

of nation gone to eradicate caste

panchayats are prevalent in Haryana, western Uttar Pradesh and parts of

system from India? Does modern

Rajasthan.

world and education system teach

Love marriages are considered taboo in areas governed by Khap

us such things? In my point of view,

panchayats. Those living in a Khap are not allowed to marry in the same

State Policy has no meaning unless

gotra or even in any gotra from the same village. Many young couples

they consider the “W EAKEST

have been killed in the past defying khap rules. Khap panchyat imposes

PERSONS” of society.

Rally

32

February 2013


Anshula Murmu

AN INTOLERANCE that has many facets is casting its long and dais ark shadow on India’s democracy, which is a precious gift, enshrined in the constitution. At the very heart of democracy is respect for tolerance of difference. This means that democracy provides space and freedom for the expression of various point of view. Hundreds of flowers and even weeds bloom and grow or should in a democracy is witnessing a shrinking of the spaces and restriction on the freedom of individuals to themselves. I WISH to present the devastating effects of the caste system on the educational, social and economical status of SC/ST women. There is a harsh reality of the suppression, struggle and torture of women each and every day .The reason is not simply due to their poverty, economical status or lack of education; but are direct result of various type of exploitation and suppression by the dominant classes. They face a triple burden of caste, class and gender. There are several religious books

according to which people are

stratified on caste basis that

promote inequality between

men and women. According

to the book WOMEN HAVE

NO

TO

E D U C A T I O N ,

IN DEPENDENCE, O R

WEALTH. It not only justifies

the treatment of dalit and

SC/ST wom en as a sex

object, but also promotes

child marriage.

RIGHT

Ac cording

to

the

national commission for SC/

ST 2000 around 75% of the

female drop out of school despite

the strict laws of the government of

India, which hold reservations for

dalits and tribal women/child girls. The main reason for this drop out from the education is poverty, escape humiliation, bullying by classmate, society and even sometimes by their teachers; therefore there is a lower literacy rate among SC and ST communities when compared to total population of educated dominant caste girls. Nowadays several NGO’s are being formed for raising the plight of untouchables. Their task is to bring the plight of dalits and SC/ST people to the attention of international community and publicize human rights violation. The fight against exploitation and torture has the power to ensure the future generations not to face the bleak reality they have faced for past two thousand years. Women in India present clear evidence of widespread exploitation and discrimination. Against these, women subordinate in terms of power relation to patriarchal society and also against their community based on caste. Bringing out all these dark shadow of women’s life where they experience endemic gender and caste discrimination will go a step further in annihilating caste based discrimination. Rally

33

February 2013


Delfi Simon Chinnappan Mumbai

THE MAZDOOR Kisan Shakti Sangathan, (MKSS) is

had been kept secret from the people. They began by

a People’s Organisation and part of the growing non-party

demanding transparency of financial records of expenditure

political process in India. A translation of the name is:

in the Panchayat; the village council. Their demand for

Organisation for the empowerment of workers and peasants.

transparency, accountability, social audit (public audit by the

As the name indicates, MKSS works with the rural poor:

people) and redress (including the return of stolen public

workers and peasants from the central districts of the north

money), began with the first Public Hearing MKSS organised

western Indian state of Rajasthan. MKSS was set up by the

in 1994.

people of that area in 1990 to strengthen participatory

The first set of Public Hearings was preceded by

democratic processes and to collectively fight exploitation.

unofficially accessing the documents, as there was no legal

Formed on the basis of the twin slogans of justice and equality

entitlement. The contents of these documents were then

there was an immediate focus on satisfying the minimum

shared and verified with the residents of the area. People came

needs of the family and the community, so that ordinary people

together on the date of the public hearing to testify and audit

could live their lives with dignity and participate as citizens

the work executed by their village council, and government

with a sense of equality. Later, as the organization grew in

officials.

strength and experience, its constituents began to see the

The revelations of these first few public hearings led to

links of their own local struggles with wider ongoing national

an immediate and sharp reaction from government officials,

or even global processes. The Right to Information struggle,

who refused to share information and made it clear that in

for which the organization is best known, is one such example.

their view people had no right to access such documents.

However, MKSS retains its commitment to broad based work

MKSS made a declaration of beginning a prolonged

at a local level, and it is therefore important to understand the

struggle till the citizens were given open access to the records

organization and the role it sees for itself, in order to better

of expenditure and governance at the Panchayat level. The

perceive the context of a particular campaign.

Rajasthan Chief Minister and the Government responded to

The Struggle for the People’s Right to Information

the pressure by making assurances which they did not keep.

While struggling for implementation of their legal right to

MKSS began a sustained struggle which was to last for three

the statutory minimum wage, the members of MKSS realised

years, before they could get the assurances implemented

that to enforce their economic rights and exercise democratic

changing the Panchayati Raj Rules and widening the scope

controls, they needed

of their demands to

the right to access the

the People’s Right to

documents,

which

constituted the basis for granting or denying them their

rights.

This

information was stored with the Government and Rally

In a democracy, without the right to know

Information from all

there can be no real right to exercise power

bodies that had an

and make the Government and the State machinery accountable to its people. 34

impact on public interest. Their first set of demands was met in

February 2013


July 1997 when the Panchayati Raj Rules were amended by

that the Panchayat and the Government has to be accountable

the Government of Rajasthan. The public hearings held after

to its people. This can bring about a fundamental change in

these amendments have had a dramatic impact. Elected

the relationship between the people and the Government. It

representatives and officials found guilty of corruption have

can enable and empower people to exercise control over

publicly returned money, and ordinary citizens have seen how

governance. And it has now become clear that it is critical to

the right to access documents gives them an opening to ask

the struggle against the implementation of anti-people policies

questions and receive answers from those who rule. Today

by governments who have become puppets in the hands of

people are grappling with working out the modes by which

multinational / transnational financial powers. If National

people can effectively audit the decisions of those who rule in

Governments have to work with the people’s mandate, then

their name. But there was need also for comprehensive

links with the world outside cannot derail the poor and the

legislation to expand and make it effective the implicit right to

citizen’s right to live, to know and decide on

know contained in the fundamental right

matters that affect their lives. People in

to the freedom of expression

different States have begun to use the

under Article 19 -1 A of the Indian

right to probe and question decisions

Constitution.

related to education, health, power

The struggle in Rajasthan by

projects,

displacement,

poor people was symbolised by

environment, and nuclear policies.

a slogan, which had brought the

The Right to Information is

issue

alive

with

a

fresh

not a right that will by itself solve

perspective: ‘The Right to Know,

all problems of corruption or the

the Right to Live’. It was clear

misuse of power. It is nevertheless

therefore, that this had also to be

a vitally important enabling campaign

seen as part of the fundamental

for all struggles for development rights,

right to life and liberty under article

human rights and democratic rights.

21 of the Indian Constitution.

Citizens pressure from across the country

In a democracy, without the right to know there can be

helped bring forth a greatly improved National Bill which was

no real right to exercise power and make the Government

passed by Parliament in 2005, replacing the much weaker

and the State machinery accountable to its people. The

Freedom of Information Act passed in 2003. The Right to

Constitution of India acknowledges that the people of India

Information Act (2005) came into effect across the country in

are the sovereign powers of independent India.

October 2005.

To exercise their sovereignty, and participate in

None of the Acts are perfect. In fact some of them, while

governance in a responsible and ethical manner, the people

paying lip service to the notion of the right to know, have well

must have a right to know. In 1996 the National Campaign for

planned loopholes and exemptions to deny information. And

People’s right to information (NCPRI), was created with a twin

even though the RTI Act 2005 is considered a strong law,

objective of drafting and campaigning for legislation to be

bureaucrats and politicians continue to deny information

passed at the Parliament and the States; as well as supporting

through tardy implementation. These legislative and

grass root struggles for access to government records and

bureaucratic manipulations have shown even more clearly

information critical to people’s lives.

that information is power, and the ones who have it are loath

India has inherited a colonial bureaucracy and a

to share it. But the very fact that Legislatures have passed

Westminster model of democracy, in which today both the

such law shows too that democratic Governments cannot

elected government and the bureaucracy are riddled by

overtly deny the people’s right to know. In such a situation the

corruption. Corruption impacts the poor people’s survival and

people recognise that they have to continue to agitate and

the right of a citizenry to decide what would benefit the nation

struggle to formulate, and enforce paradigms of change which

as a whole. Right to Information is an effective tool to control

have the form and content that is true to their search for a

corruption and the arbitrary exercise of power, and establish

better world.

Rally

35

February 2013


Bharati Das St. Xavier’s College, Kolkata

Orthodoxy suffers from a communal myopia and

subsist between people of the Scheduled Castes and

ignorance to permit any development to seize

those of other castes. This could be seen in virtually all

position.

human development indicators. While constituting about

A dalit woman village panchayat president in Erode

18 percent of the population of the state of Karnataka,

district was not allowed to occupy the chair allotted for

Scheduled Castes are concerted in the minor economic

the elected president. She has lodged complaints with

categories, in both rural and urban areas. In rural areas,

the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and

they constitute the largest section of landless people,

the district administration, alleging caste-based

and own only 11.65 per cent of agricultural land available,

discrimination by the vice-president of the panchayat

mostly of poorer quality and without irrigation even

and a district panchayat vice-chairperson. Valli

though they are dependent on agriculture. (Anand

Deivanai, president of Pasuvapatti village panchayat in

Inbanathan and N Sivanna) They are thus, more liable

Chennimalai block claimed that she faced discrimination

to be employed as unskilled/manual daily wage

right from the day her candidature was announced.

labourers. The weak economic and social status of the

After she won the elections, she was not allowed to

Scheduled Castes contributes to their fragile political

occupy the chair allotted for the elected president.

position in the panchayats.

People of the Scheduled Castes have an extensive

More than 200 million people in India are

account of being discriminated against, browbeaten,

vulnerable to discrimination, exploitation and violence

and placed at the bottom of caste society. The

simply because of the caste into which they were born.

panchayati raj, after the enactment of the 73

rd

The caste system relegates Dalits, formerly known as

Constitutional Amendment, brought in trials to overcome

’untouchables’, to a lifetime of segregation and abuse.

these past indignities, and provided a quota within

Caste-based divisions dominate in housing, marriage,

ordinary seats and among the office bearers of the

employment, education, and general social interaction—

panchayats. There is,

divisions

however, strong resistance

reinforced

among the dominant

economic boycotts and

castes (just above that of

physical violence. Dalits

the Scheduled Castes in

are forced to perform

many

tasks

cases),

about

that

are

through

deemed

too

reservation of the post of

“polluting” or degrading

panchayat president for

for non-Dalits.

Scheduled Caste people.

According

Extensive disparities Rally

to

unofficial estimates, as 36

February 2013


many as 1.3 million Indian Dalits are employed as

Panchayat Raj is a system of governance in which

manual scavengers to clear human waste from dry pit

gram panchayats are the basic units of administration.

latrines, often with their bare hands and without

It has 3 levels: village, block and district. The panchayats

protective gear. Manual scavengers are considered to

receive funds from three sources –

be at the very bottom of the caste hierarchy and are

(i) Local body grants, as recommended by the

treated as untouchables even by other Dalits.

Central Finance Commission,

One wonders, ’How much worse can it get?’

(ii) Funds for implem entation of centrally-

“I go to study in the government school. The

sponsored schemes, and

teachers in our school practice discrimination with us.

(iii) Funds released by the state governments on

They make us sit in the last row in the classroom and

the recommendations of the State Finance

so the teachers are not interested to teach. Our names

Commissions.

are not written in any competitions that happen in the

One of their main functions is to execute plans for

school. So I feel like that I will fail and so I should stop

the development of the scheduled castes and tribes.

going to the school.” – Says, Vishalkumar Rameshbhai

Run ashramshalas for adivasi children and set up free

Vaghela, age 14, Bhavnagar District.

hostels for scheduled caste students.

“My

name

is

The main sources of income of

Kirankumar Rameshbhai

the panchayat samiti are:

Chauhan. I am 14 years

(i)

old. I live with my parents

Grants-in-aid and loans from the State Government.

in Malvan village in Patdi

(ii)

taluka of Surendranagar

Taxes on water, pilgrimage, markets, etc.

district. I am not allowed

(iii)

Fixed grant from the State

to sing prayers, not

Government in proportion with

allowed to give answers to

the land revenue and money

the questions and not allowed to take part in any cultural

for works and schemes

programs organized in our school. In the school the

assigned to the Parishad.

midday meal is cooked by a Harijan woman so the

Reassignment of leadership from the governing

Muslim and Patel students do not come to eat. The

to the marginalized groups can be seen in various

teachers and other caste students practice

ways. Somehow, there is a propensity towards

discrimination against me. Everybody addresses us as

prejudice to providing power to the groups that

“Bhangis”. The urinals and toilets are only cleaned by

were considered as being at the “bottom of

the Valmiki children students. Twice a week I clean one

society”. The second is where there is the challenge

classroom. I feel shy so I don’t go to get leftover food.

that the dominant groups have to face following

Sometimes I go to drag a dead dog or cat and for this I

the greater awareness and capacity of Scheduled

get Rs. 10/- to 20/-.”

Castes to take up the mantle of leadership. A third

It is not about the myopic view we are seeking or

aspect put frontward by a few members of the

the protection that is boasted about to the society. The

traditional leadership states that ‘whoever comes

question is, are they helping us at all? Are their duties

must be good and work for the welfare of the

mere decorations in the Constitution? If that is the case,

community’.

then why hasn’t any stringent action been taken?

In the end, I would righteously admit: We are

“All that tread, the globe are but a handful to the

not creatures of Caste Discrimination; We are

tribes, that slumber in its bosom.”

creators of Caste Discrimination.

-William C. Bryant Rally

37

February 2013


Swati Soren, West Bengal.

PANCHAYATI RAJ is a rural based independent and autonomous institution entrusted with the responsibility of administrating the local community. At present, the modern Indian government has decentralized several administrative functions to the local level, giving power in the hands of the elected gram panchayats. The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), was enacted by legislation on August 25, 2005 by the UPA I government. However, this act was later renamed as Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) on October 2, 2009. The scheme is a job guarantee scheme which promises 100 days of employment in every financial year to all the adult members of a rural house hold. The gram panchayat identifies the productivity enhancing activities i.e. the areas where work can be done, for example-water conservation and harvesting, aforestation, rural connectivity, flood control,

digging of ponds and tanks. The

person who is willing to

discharge his/her labour

submits an application to

the gram panchayat which is

under obligation to issue

a job card within 15 days of

application. It is the gram

panchayat’s responsibility to

provide work to the job

card holders. It also keeps

the record of work done and

the workers engaged in it.

The introduction of NREGA

was seen as an instrument in the

hands of rural population for improving their income and purchasing power. Initially, this scheme did create employment opportunities and rural households did benefit from the consistently available work. However with the passing years, there has been a decline in the employment generation under the scheme. According to the statistics of the Ministry of Rural Development, the work generated by NREGA has declined from 248 crore % to 211 crore% between 2009-10 and 2011-12 i.e. 25% drop in employment generation. Most startling fact revealed by this statistics, is that, the sections that have suffered the maximum decline are the dalits and the adivasis- the sections which were the prime considerations during the formulation of NREGA. The lack of awareness among the targeted recipients of the scheme can be stated as one of the reasons for the decline in the employment generation. However, the wage delay, on behalf of the government can also not be ignored. The government is equally responsible for this decline. Whatever may be the cause, the substantial failure of NREGA cannot be ruled out from our discussion. In the knowledge of such failure, the hope of financially strengthening the rural household can barely be cherished. Rally

38

February 2013


ACTALYST is actually a deliberate spelling mistake of ‘CATALYST’. It just invites us to ‘act as catalyst’. These stories could be of great use for uniting the units in focus.

ATROCITIES AGAINST DALITS, TRIBALS, WOMEN AND CHILDREN………….

Dr. G. John St. Joseph’s College, Trichy, National Animator

In India 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8

A woman is raped every 22 minutes, and a bride burnt for dowry every 58 minutes 27 atrocities against Dalits happen every day 3 Dalit women are raped every day A crime committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes· 13 Dalits are murdered every week 6 Dalits are kidnapped or abducted every week Crimes against women increased by 7.1 percent since 2010. In 2011, 24,206 incidents of rapes were recorded, a rise of 9 percent from the previous year. 10.6 percent of total victims of rape are girls under 14 years of age, while 19 percent are teens between the ages of 14 and 18.

8 Madhya Pradesh, a state with a large population of tribes, has recorded 3406 rape cases, the highest number of incidents in the country in 2011 If you think that all these atrocities are happening in this

I am aware and conscious that we can’t become civilized

civilized world, you would be surprised. I am not surprised at

so soon and so quickly. It would take another 2000 years or

all. The fault lies in the fact that you assume ‘we have become

so for men to become ‘civilized’ so that these kinds of atrocities

civilized’ over the years. For you ‘becoming civilized’ is like

don’t happen. I say this emphatically because it is science

becoming modern, educated, knowledgeable, posh and so

that can be proved. Scientific knowledge is based on

on and so forth. These attributes that you acquire cannot make

‘observation’ on the basis of which future events can be

you a civilized man. Of course, they play a very positive role

predicted accurately. If observed behavior leads to prediction

in making us ‘become civilized’ but their impacts are very short

of behavior – it is science. The oppressor’s attitude to ‘oppress’

and temporary and they are often nullified by ‘what you have

others, especially ‘the oppressed’ is a social lineage passed

in you’ – the inherited traits.

on from one generation to another for ages. No one needs to

Rally

39

February 2013


teach the oppressor to oppress. It is in his blood and veins,

called homozygous for the trait. If the two factors have different

oftentimes, without him/her being aware of such an attitude

information, the individual is called heterozygous. The

present in him. It is an inherited attitude/behavior further fuelled

alternative forms of a factor are called alleles. The genotype

by the environment in which one lives. It is a basic instinct

of an individual is made up of the many alleles it possesses.

present in every oppressor. That is why, a person who

An individual’s physical appearance, or phenotype, is

declares himself as ‘more than a Dalit’, often without his

determined by its alleles as well as by its environment. An

knowledge, exhibits the behavior of an oppressor.

individual possesses two alleles for each trait; one allele is

On one occasion, a catholic priest occupying a higher

given by the female parent and the other by the male parent.

post in a college spoke to me as if to identify himself with

They are passed on when an individual matures and

Dalits and their cause. In the middle of our conversation, a

produces gametes: egg and sperm. When gametes form, the

student entered the room to get permission to go home availing

paired alleles separate randomly so that each gamete receives

holiday. The conversation went on like this.

a copy of one of the two alleles. The presence of an allele

Priest: It is almost exam time, why do you want to go

does not mean that the trait will be expressed in the individual

home now?

that possesses it. In heterozygous individuals, the allele that

Student: Father, it is our village festival.

is expressed is the dominant. The recessive allele is present

Priest: What do you study?

but its expression is hidden. That is how our society has

Student: I am in First MCA, father.

become a patriarchic society with all sorts of male-chauvinist

Priest: How much did you score in UG?

prejudices, often assisted by and coupled with religious system

Student: I scored 59 percent, father.

and sanctions. It is very difficult to eradicate these kinds of

Priest: Then, are you a dalit?

evils; it requires a considerable and proactive intervention by

Student: Yes father.

all sections of society.

Priest: With low percentage, you join courses like

All the atrocities committed against children, women,

MCA! And you people will be like this only, not worrying

dalits and tribals are just manifestations of such deep

about studies and bring down the standard of the college!

entrenched ill-gotten value system - patriarchy, feudal, male

The priest in above conversation exhibits

chauvinistic, casteism, parochialism and

a stereotype attitude towards dalits that is quite

birth based social hierarchy. Unless and

spontaneous. Though he, by his words spoken,

until we uproot this value system, present

seemingly wants to sympathize with Dalits, his

in all communities, the atrocities will

natural behavior, as that of an oppressor, is just

continue to happen.

the opposite. Oppression and exploitation is the

What is needed is the social reform

human culture cultivated and grown for ages,

through education. We need to address

passed on from one generation to another, as

these issues in a holistic manner.

a social lineage. In fact, we become slaves of

Through education we need to promote

that ‘human culture’.

the values of enlightenment such as

According to Charles Darwin, human

reason, freedom, fraternity, tolerance and

culture is invented by grown people and passed

equality. The mind set of zero tolerance

on by parents to their children. This theory is

to violence should be inculcated. As

known as Lamarckism - a theory of

AICUFers, we need to respond to this

organic evolution claiming that acquired

distress call which is alarming as ever

characteristics are transmitted to offspring. No one needs to

before. This is one reason why we have chosen DRAW (Dalits,

teach this ‘human culture’ – it is inherited more than acquired.

Refugees, Adivasis, Women) as our target group. Our agenda

‘Chauvinism and attitude to oppress others’, as a social

of working towards these target groups is not yet over, and

lineage, is the dominant trait which the forefathers of the

continues, with renewed energy and vigour. Remember the

present oppressors had. As they were the dominant traits,

prophetic statement of our AICUFers: “we were born into an

according to Gregor Mendel, is quite easily passed to the future

unjust society, and we are determined not to leave it as we

generation. Gregor Mendel further states that each individual

have found it”. I am afraid, this statement will hold good for

has two factors for each trait, one from each parent. The two

ever….. and years to come.

factors may or may not contain the same information. If the two Rally

factors

are

identical,

the

individual

is

40

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