Sep 122005

A story from the ToI about caste.
Students in a school in Bihar refusing to eat mid-day meals cooked by Dalit Women.

The incident occurred in the village of former Bihar chief minister Karpoori Thakur, a staunch socialist and champion of social justice.

Official sources said students of Laxmi Narayan Madhya Vidayalya in Thakur’s village in Samastipur district, belonging not only to upper castes, but backward castes and even Dalits, have refused meals cooked by two lowest ranked Dalit women for the last few days.

District officials are persuading:

…some students to take cooked food but a majority refused. Still we were trying to pacify them,”

Pacifying??? wtf – a) what kind of educaiton is the school providing that results in this kind of socialisation b) what kind of social justice mechanisms are in place in Bihar that allow for this kind of discrimination and c) what is the action that is going to be taken against the parents of these children for such bad behavior. After all parents’ are responsible for the behaviour of the children. A good heafty fine per household will probably do the trick a lot faster than involved legal action. Hit them where it hurts – and it hurts when it costs.

Coming soon on the heels of the Gohana atrocity – this is a wake up call for India. Everytime, some one says that caste no longer matters, get rid of reservation – look at incidents like this – and you will realise that caste is very much there. It is just not front page news because we are more interested in personality x shooting coke or personality y discussing their sexuality.

Incidentally, in Gohana the main accused seem to have political affiliation

Pradeep Sangwan and Ranvir Sangwan, son and brother respectively of Kishen Singh Sangwan, a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) Member of Parliament, have been named in the first information report (FIR) filed after the arson. The MP has denied his son’s involvement. However, as many as 15 of the 23 men booked under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act are BJP members, including the block president, a senior police officer said.

Atrocities against Dalits are on the rise across India. Politicians are so busy carving up the nation into caste & religious vote banks – recall Mulayam Yadav’s pronouncements on Imrana – that a lot of this kind of shit is excused in the name of tradition.

As i blogged earlier there needs to be some sort of concerted religious reform – with leading lights in Hinduism coming out and speaking out against caste & gender discrimination. It’s all very well for us to talk about uniform civil code and all that. But as a friend of mine would say woh to baad ki baat hai. It is a matter of constitutional reform. For now deliver what the constitution promises -t hat is equality. And there can be no apologies made for lack of equality on grounds of tradition. . There are too many people who make apologies for both caste and gender discrimination in the name of tradition. And that really needs to stop.

Maybe, it is time that we saw some concerted political action. Leaders of all parties fighting the elections in Bihar going to the school and talking about why the students’ stand is wrong. Why caste is wrong. Why discrimination is wrong. Instead of appealing for a caste vote bank, won’t this be more productive?