Monday, September 26, 2011
No criminal conspiracy in Mirchpur By Vidya Bhushan Rawat A Delhi court yesterday declared that there was no criminal conspiracy in Mirchpur and therefore it honorably acquitted 82 accused while framing charges against the other 15 accused who were found guilty of not committing murder. Mirchpur incident came into focus when on April 21st, 2010, a father and his disabled girl was brutally burnt by some of the Jat villagers as they refused to toe the line of the powerful Jats and were living a relatively better life much to the envy of the powerful Jats. When the Balmikis became enraged and protested the state government ordered an inquiry to the incident and tried to cover up the case. It was only after the intervention by the Supreme Court that the case was transferred to a Delhi court in Rohini yet the end result remain the same. It would have been the same case had the case been filed in Haryana. Mirchpur incident reflect many thing. That the Balmikis and other Dalits often becomes victim of caste violence in Haryana where caste identities are sharpened and mingling is not allowed, when they assert and have a ‘feel good’ factor for themselves. It means that the upper caste will be angry when a Dalit family is happy despite all their troubles as the Hindus most of the time wants them to stick to their traditional occupation and beg them for honor. Now after much harder work, the Dalits in Haryana and Punjab are not moving to cities and charting a different path for their livelihood much to the discomfort of the powerful caste forces. It is also a fact that Mirchpur violence was not first instance of caste violence in Haryana. Prior to that we had seen many places the violence against Dalit including infamous Jhajjhar where a Dalit was murdered for tanning the skin of a cow. Haryana may be boasting too much for its farmers but it has not been able to develop a modern democratic culture. It may have elected governments like any other state but it is more feudalistic in nature than any other state. The Khap rules Haryana. The Khap is the Panchayat as well as the farmers who have developed their own sense of superiority complex. It is not strange therefore that when I attended a farmer’s protest in Haryana against land acquisition, most of the farmers still wanted to be called as ‘Zamindar’. They felt proud of being so. Haryana has the dominance of Jaats and Gujjars since independence. The change of democratic system which allowed these communities to grow has not percolated further. Any effort to change is resisted violently. Unfortunately, the farmers movement in Haryana has just been reduced to bargain better land price for them and not related to anything with farming. It is most to convert farmers to real estate agents like what has happened in Western Uttar-Pradesh. Haryana never had land reform hence despite so called prosperity; it is a few communities who enjoyed the fruits of suppression of Dalits. Most of the Dalits are in to agrarian work making their livelihood through agricultural labors. Now, the Chamars and Balmikis have delinked themselves from the traditional occupation as they want to get educated and do the work which gives them respect. It is not easy for the upper caste to tolerate the new assertion of a Balmiki in Haryana. As a manual scavenger they were prohibited entering the house but that was not the problem. The Jaat or Gujjar pride is hurt when they see the young boys from Dalit communities doing different work than ‘meant’ for them. Secondly, if a Balmiki has relatively a better house in the village or they are enjoying their life, that too becomes a matter of great ‘concern’ of them. And this anger is reflected somewhere else and on some day when the community is targeted. With political power and sheer number games on their side, Jats know that any action against them would cost the political parties their votes in Western Uttar-Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan. That is why the political parties do not speak. Other than that, there are so-called farmer’s support groups, who would talk about them as if ‘ Zamaindari’ is their fundamental right. Such person glorifies the so called farming even at the cost of human lives and the oppression and ostracisation of Dalits in these villages. Not a single person writing about agricultural labour or agrarian question ever mention the condition of agricultural labour in Haryana who are mostly Dalits. Their marginalization and exploitation is complete yet have not attracted the attention of our friends who are worried about ‘kheti-kisani’. Nothing happened to Mirchpur exploiters. They knew it well that such incidents will never get a witness. When an entire village turns against a community or an individual who will lodge a complaint to the police or authorities? Who will dare to become a witness when faced with deep pressure to save the people who saved their ‘pride’? The ‘pride’ of Jats at that moment was to teach a lesson to asserting Balmikis and hence most of the villagers felt they had not done anything wrong. The best way to tell the authorities is that they saw nobody. When the entire village has turned racist and casteist then talk of sanity is not possible. There the rule of law has to be enforced. No decentralization work here. These are the dangers of decentralization. If the central law is not there then the local feudal lords will not allow the Dalits to flourish. So, despite so-called ‘decentralised democracy’, we are still bound by International and national human rights laws. Unfortunately, those who talk of the so-called decentralization process are glamorizing those Khaps which must be destroyed. There is nothing glamorous in these Khaps which are casteist and are a blot to any civilized society. Mirchpur also reflect the poor state of our governance. The issue of Dalits will only get prominence if they are suitable to the ruling elites. Whenever and wherever the issue of Dalits becomes an obstacle to get sympathy or political benefits the issue will be side tracked. Hence, the Haryana police predominantly a Jat-Gujjar enterprise did not do anything to nab the culprits. It just did everything formally. Their counterparts in Delhi have the same mind. I know once I met a senior officer of Delhi police related to a case against Valmiki family in Narela where the police was openly supporting the Jaats who had joined hand to throw a Valmiki family out of that place yet the officer was showing his helplessness. ‘ You see, I come from JNU and have progressive thoughts but our Jawans and our junior officers hail from Haryana and Western Uttar-Pradesh, who still have the same social and cultural prejudices which existed in the village. So, it is not just a legal problem but greater issue of social change, the officer said. My point was that ofcourse, we have to fight for this and social organizations must do it but then how many of the social organizations will get any support if they start working on Caste and untouchability? Secondly, we know all these realities but the state should also show some spine in this case. Even when Mirchpur case was transferred to Delhi for the reason that the powerful people would not be able to influence the witness, the fact remain the same. Delhi is not different than Haryana. We know it well that such things happen. While our media and ‘social activists’ went in the town and at the India gate with candles in their hand to force the court give a favorable verdict in the case of ‘Jessica Lal’ but the same media do not have time to even give some space to this. Mirchpur is a common failure of Indian democracy. It is failure of our civil society which has no time for it. It is failure of the forces of social justice who are unable to join hand and take it to logical conclusion. Our political parties have always been casteist in nature hence if this matter does not suit them they will avoid it. The administration has no will as it remain an administration to save the powerful. Haryana will continue to have more Mirchpurs and bigger Khap challenging the very democratic set up the country when it does not suit them. Mirchpur’s judgment has shown how helpless the case of justice in India is. The forces of caste are so powerful that they have law, political system and media with their side. It is tragic but truth. How can a country living in so much divisions and prejudices be called a society or a nation. When Jessica Lal’s verdict was delivered by the local court acquitting all the accused the Times of India wrote prominently ‘ No one killed Jessica’ and media went overboard to get ‘Jesica’ justice. Her sister became a ‘social activist’ and many more friends also became ‘social activists’. The upper courts were forced to take a matter seriously. Media pressure, in the name of public pressure, finally brought justice to Jessica. But it is tragic that a case of racial violence, caste prejudice, does not get a single column report in front page in the media. The worst are the TV channels who seem to have become the guardians of our morality. But there was no news. It is a shame that these ‘moral guardians’ sitting in the TV studios have no time to discuss Mirchpur which is not even two hours drive from Delhi. Why are they silent? Indian state is nothing but is controlled by the brahmanical manipulators. Unless, we understand it, nothing will move. These manipulators work in media and in our state apparatus. Through media they change the debate, take you somewhere else. There are those who have taken it to them to be our moral guardians. They want to be looked as ‘conscious keeper’ of the country yet such blatant violations of human rights of people are ignored by them. All the people become one for them. It is easier to abuse politicians and government from the loudspeakers of TV studios but please go beyond it. If your caste prejudices are out, then you will see, the people of India, we appreciate too much, are suffering from a big disease of caste prejudices and hidden apartheid. Unless India addresses this, it will never be a nation. It will be a country of a few power elite while others will suffer without our mind and action going to them. Therefore, Mirchpur case is an example where Indian state should show some spine. Our media should stand with the victims and our social movements must understand that just large number of people for a cause may not necessarily be on the right side. It is time to call these majoritarian forces a bluff. India need protection of the individuals’ right and such tendencies of majoritarianism will demolish a great constitution and our society as a whole. The issue of violence against Dalits is a serious matter and if India fail to provide justice, then it has to be prepared for its repercussion and social unrest. The case is a challenge and test of our democratic set up. The higher courts must take note of it. It should not be left to an unwilling government. Time has come when people must file case on their own so that the complicity of state apparatus is exposed in it.
Wednesday, September 21, 2011
Do we need a planning Commission By Vidya Bhushan Rawat Do we really need a planning commission which does not even know the anguish and pains of the country. Such a planning commission is a blot on India. In this age, when corruption in each department has run in billions, when salaries of government staff and their counterparts are zooming up, our planning commission shamelessly tells the Supreme Court that Rs 25 ( not even fifty cent) a day is enough to live a life. When we demand that Rs 100 meant for one day work in the National Rural Employment Generation Scheme is much below the inflationary rates. This sham called Montek Singh Ahaluwalia must be be dismissed immediately. Planning Commission's member who do not toe the Montek line are isolated. If this govt continue to go ahead with such attitude, I am sure people of India will push it to dustbins in the coming days. It is nothing but deeply regrettable that such an idea coming from government's planning commission which is supposed to be understanding the issues of people. Every year, the government of India increase the salaries, Dearness Allowances of its officers. The chairman of the planning commission is a well furnished job. It has power, influence and glamor if you do the work for the companies. Ofcourse, if you promote people's policies then you are bad, jholawala and old communist mind. Montek has completely demolished that old pro people ideas of the planning commission. He can go so harsh because our Prime Minister feel that he has the in his pulse the understanding of the country. It is important that planning commission must be revamped. It must have eminent people from social organisation, political leaders and activists. Planning can not be left to a few individuals of the 'great' quality learnt from Washington DC and in the air conditioned chambers of World Bank and International Monitory Funds. Planners need to understand the pain of Bharat. The people of Bharat are really feeling the pinch whether their land is being acquired or they are pushed to further marginalisation. It is time the prime minister of India think serious and completely revamp the planning commission. We have no faith in such a Commission which is a facilitators for the corporate take over of people's resources. People of India have not voted Montek Singh Ahluwalia to sale India's assets to private corporations. He must be desisted to do so. This farce at the planning commission must stop. The government must withdraw its affidavit from the Supreme Court and apologise from the people of India for insulting them. What is the budget of Montek. His coffee must be costing much more than Rs 25/-. Such shameless commission must be disbanded and its head must be shown the door. India can not afford their luxuries at the cost of its own people. For the past 20 years, the planning commission is just meant to reduce government's burden, by reducing its social responsibility and acting as a 'real estate agent' which has actually resulted in huge corruption as state, centre and each one who enjoyed power began selling India's natural worth to private corporations. While people are dying of hunger, losing their land, water and forest, our netas, bureaucrats, industrial houses multiplied their wealth. This shamelessness has resulted in people losing faith in political system of the country and picking up guns. If a large part of india is witnessing a challenge to its sovereignty, it is because of this Montek Manmohan Chidambaram's shameless agenda of looting people's worth. It is time, such rackless loot of India's resources must be stopped so that people do not resort to desperate violence for their survival. India as a nation has to answer to millions of its people who still remain hungry, who still do not have two time a meal.Vandemataram and mera bharat mahan and big nationalist cries mean nothing to them. India will become great and powerful if each one us have two time meal and a work to contribute to the nation. We all know that depending on government is foolishness. India's Aadivasis were never dependent on the government but it is the otherway round. By sucking their resources, which they nurtured for thousands of year, the government has become looter. And over it, the planners in Delhi feel that by making people landless and workless and suggesting that they can survive just on Rs 25 a day, this government insult the people, their work and worth. Chidambaram will not succeed if his friend in planning commission continue to insult people and their livelihood. If you can not give people dignity and right, you have no right to snatch their life, livelihood and resources. Let the government know it otherwise the government will never be able to do justice anywhere. Let the planning commission be an inclusive body, the voice of the people, for their welfare, and benefit and not a facilitating 'real estate' agency for the national and international private corporations.
Sunday, September 18, 2011
Looking for a Messiah: Are the Indian elite desperately searching for a Savior? By Vidya Bhushan Rawat It is disappointing and shameful the way BJP and some of its allies have exhibited their support for Narendra Modi’s fast for ‘atma shuddhi’ and ‘sadbhavna’. Gujarat Congress leader Shankar Singh Vaghela has also gone on fast though without much notice of the media. Vaghela comes from the Hindutva background and understand very well the tricks of the game. Those who have read the Supreme Court order know it well that it has given instruction to authorities to file cases as per the SIT report. There is every option for the people to again go the court and seek justice if the local authorities in Gujarat again try to subvert justice. However, the issue here is much bigger and the way the entire game is being played, it has wider political repercussions too and need political understanding of the entire game. While every political party is free to go for its political campaign and can approach any community in India, however there are a few questions before that. In a democratic society there is no space for fasting which is nothing but an act of blackmail and side tracking the real issues. Therefore political battles have to be fought politically and not through apolitical blackmails. Fasting is nothing but re-imposition of the brahmanical values on India. Right from the period of Gandhi all the symbols adopted and exhibited for fasting are brahmanical and widely open to interpretation without saying directly. The war cries during these fasts are so loud that any one who oppose them genuinely face threat of physical intimidation. So, the non violent fasts are actually more violent than the physical violence as they expose your vulnerability. Anyone who has seen the ‘progress’ and ‘peace’ in Gujarat can vouch for Narendra Modi. Gujarat is a very prosperous state and there is little doubt about that. But this is also a fact that it was so much before Narendra Modi as dominant Gujaratis are business mind and they have succeeded in their business world over. But has the business mind in Gujarat really brought a change in the ‘mindset’ of common Gujarati which Narendra Modi and others in the Sangh Parivar boast so much? Can we say that Gujarat is a state which has no discrimination and every body live in peace? Yes, because the Gujarat which Narendra Modi boast and develop actually is a Gujarat of Varna Vyavastha, of caste system and none of them have the courage to stand against that. If we ask these questions and make a checklist then the reality would exactly the opposite. Are inter caste marriages common in Gujarat and the answer is a big no. Similarly, we all know the fate of people marrying beyond their religious identity. So what has changed in Gujrat Mr Modi? Yes, all the Babas, and Sadhus are more popular than ever in Gujarat. The sas-bahus idiocies are too popular in Gujarat and therefore bollywood jump in that market. If you compare Gujarat with Punjab then the differences will be sharp. Gujarati’s are businessmen but by heart not as open as the Sikhs. Sikhs also prospered and traveled world over like Gujaratis have much wider community sense than Gujaratis. They have also developed business and entrepreneurship. But see the difference. The progress in Punjab is over all and inclusive while in Gujarat it is exclusive and those living in margins are still living the same way. Today, the Dalits in Punjab whether it is the Mazhabis or Ravidasis are much better and liberated than their counterparts in Gujarat. Go to any Dalit basti in Gujarat particularly the Valmikis and you can hear the story of the racial prejudices in Gujarat. In Punjab too they face discrimination against the vary tenants of Guru Granth Saheb yet Dalits retaliate in Punjab. They have their own Gurudwaras and strong community leadership has emerged. Gujarat is not just Anand, Ahmedabad, Baroda or Surat. Gujarat is also Kheda, Porbandar, Kutchch and other tribal regions. Ask those regions about the changes and you will realize it. Narendra Modi claims that there were no communal riots in Gujarat since 2002. Yes, there could not have been as the entire state machinery was used so much against the minorities that their life became hell and economy totally collapsed. It take time to rebuild in a state where a complete economic embargo was put on Muslims and Christians. Don’t we know that before the Muslim became direct target of the Hindutva brigade, it were the Christians, their churches and institutions that came under sharp attack from the Hindutva gangs who had clearly got state patronage. Gujarat is very unfortunate in many way. Unfortunate because the cocktail of corporate and religion is working wonder in Gujarat. The powerful upper castes in Gujarat are more than ever powerful. They have migrated abroad. The condition of Dalits and tribal is so bad that none of them have power to stand up at the moment. Most of them have either state government jobs or at maximum private jobs owned by Patels, Sidhis and Jains whose political sympathies with Hindutva are well known to be described here. The Dalits even if they want to revolt may not be able to do so under the grave economic pressure. That has happened in a very systematic way. Whenever the Dalits organize their rallies and programme, their activities are watched and observed and later they are isolated. The economic dependency has hampered their movement for a different political understanding other than the upper caste parties of Congress and BJP. Muslims in Gujarat seems not to have any other option than switching their loyalty here and there as their condition is the worst. Modi’s supporters are proposing Gujarat model for development. One does not know in which world they love. Can Gujarat be really called a developed state? A good state for investment and a better governed state are two different dynamics. If Gujarat is so good that every international company are vying to be here then why the Gujaratis living in Africa, Europe and Americas come back to their original land and restrengthen it. Why they still need to go abroad to earn much. Gujarat riots were engineered to break the backbone of Muslim business. It is the basic tendency of the Hindutva protagonists to engineer riots where the Muslims had a sizeable business presence and the result from various communal riots reflect that. The isolation of Muslims in Gujarat was complete. If peace comes at the cost of leaving in submission and subjugation then Modi and his fanatic friends must understand that it will not be. Injustice anywhere is a threat to peace. If people are unable to get justice in the political set up then obviously it breed communalism on both the sides. Today, Narendra Modi condemns communalism and caste-ism. He blames the policy of appeasement in the past sixty years. The fact is that India has been ruled by the upper caste upper elite during all these years Mr. Modi. And if he means that Indian state has appeased Muslims and given some thing special then Modi must understand that Muslims face the worst form of discrimination in the government jobs and private corporations. Even taking a house on rent is difficult to get and finally the person has to find the ‘Muslim’ locality’. Such ghettosiation helps the communal politicians and their leaders as the more the communication gap between the two communities the bigger the business of these loud mouths who shout at each other posing a threat from the opposing sides. There is no denying the fact that India need to move forward. And for it the shortsighted policies must go. For this, the tamasha of fasting must stop. All these fast are meant against some one. Most of these fast are done by the caste Hindus to regain and retain their leadership and stop the others from gaining any right. Gandhi’s fast against untouchability was a betrayal to Ambedkar’s struggle for social justice and Dalits which he so valiantly fought. Anna’s fast looked intimidating to the Dalits, OBCs, and Muslims of India. Now Modi is fasting to cleanse himself while Congress too is fasting. The political battles are to be fought politically but when the politics is just an adjustment and calculation then we can expect anything sincere from the political class which has become expert in saying things according to its convenience. In the Gujarat University campus, sharing platform with Modi were various political leaders. Modi say ‘ India is run through constitution’, now this is another statement. Why any one has to host tricolor in India or say Vandemataram. While Modi’s supporters have not started following Anna, but such tactics are clear enough in projecting one particular community or people who disagree as traitors. When you say that India is run through constitution, it is because you want to communicate that you have been exonerated by the highest court of the land which is absolutely farcical. The Supreme Court’s Judgment has not exonerated Modi. In fact, Supreme Court must take a suo moto cognigence of such blatant lies and misinterpretations of its order. We all know the agenda of the Hindutva protagonists. Most of them do not have faith in the constitution of India. Modi feel that the past 60 years India appeased to different castes and religion. Modi hate castes because it is obstructing his way. May be true because he is not a powerful Patel of Gujarat and at the initial phase the Patel lobby had actually tried to overthrow him. Gujarat may be having a high growth rates but Gujarat’s Dalits and Adivasis too want Gujarati’s to leave their caste mind. The narrowness of Gujarat’s caste mindset can not be matched to openness in Punjab which a Dalit can feel. And in Punjab the Dalits too retaliate and react if they are under assault. We can not expect that in Gujarat at the moment. The openness that the Muslims have in Uttar-Pradesh and Bihar is much bigger than the peace of Gujarat. The blending of Muslims in the Ganga Jamuni culture is tremendous and despite all problems they too can retaliate when time comes. If Modi say that there were no curfew in Gujarat it is because the social ostracisation of marginalized communities in Gujarat completed with Modi. Along with Modi all the Gujaratis should atone for their caste mind. Gujarati’s want to enjoy liberty and freedom elsewhere but they do not want to give the same in their own state Mr Modi. So, these tamasha being oraganised in Gujarat will serve little purpose. The problem of Gujarat is multifold. The oppression and control of the poor of Gujarat is complete. They will revolt against the elite of Gujarat who have Modi as their hero. That day is not far over. The so-called governance will then crumble. As far as the media is concern, the least say about them is the best. They were the most fascinating observer of YSR Rajshekar Reddy, the former Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh and today they can see YSR and his corrupt regime. So, Modi is good for them as he serves their interest. Let us ask a question to Modi what radical changes has he made in the lives of a common Gujarati? What is the standard of an ordinary road transport bus of Gujarat? Is it a better transport service than Rajasthan or Haryana? What about the college education in Gujarat? Is it providing better research than others? Yes, Gujarat is have business mind and that is why they can claim to have an IIM in Ahemdabad and one for the rural development in Anand. But what about the common education in school? What about the Panchayats in Gujarat? Finally, Mr Modi, so many people were arrested under POTA in Gujrat, particularly in Godhra. I have visited those families and seen their pain. Old, young, visually impaired, we have seen people virtually living in deep dejection and isolation. How will they get justices who are in jail without any trial? How will people react if so many people without trials are in your jails on the one side while on the other side those who should have been behind the bar, are enjoying the fruits of power. Yes, Mr Modi, caste was not discovered sixty years ago. It is a heritage that you feel proud. All those rishis, munis, sadhus and sanyasis that you bring on your stage and shout Bharat Mata ki Jaya are afraid of caste. They know it better that today thank to constitution of India these people are now standing up and reacting. Yes, Ambedkar’s constitution have given them power, understanding that in democracy number matters and it is here all the good friends of Narendra Modi are afraid of. Not of Modi but so-called opponents are also afraid of that weapon as the real threat to India according to them, does not come from Pakistan but the assertion of Dalit Bahujan. It is actually this feeling which is disturbing India’s ruling elite whether it is Kapil Sibol or Chidambaram or Jayalalitha-Advani and Modi. In this historic war, Muslims are simply becoming the tool to be used. They have to decide which side of the war are they on. It is not a war between Congress or BJP. It is actually a war between India’s minority upper caste elite and those who have suffered India caste based hidden apartheid. The power elite in India is desperate at the moment and looking for some savior such as Anna Hazare or Narendra Modi. Fortunately, India is such a diverse and huge country that despite all the propaganda material at their disposal they know it well, things are not that simple which our news channels want us to believe. Yes, India’s poor understand all these forces much better than those who make their opinion through TV channels. This desperation will not work. The upper caste upper elite in India need to believe in democratic set up and not try to subvert it through desperate means as end of democracy will only open caste anarchy in India. Let us not allow India to go the Afghanistan way by such short sighted policies of ignoring important division and genuinely addressing those issues. For the sake of a few leaders, a country’s unity cannot be put on stake. Coming days are more challenging for India as we need to see whether the perpetrators of crime will be punished as per law of the land or will they use this opportunity to take power in their own hands in the name of people’s verdict by creating hysterical situation and total polarization on religious line. The idea of India is under the threat.