Reality Check India

Dalit rage on the boil

Posted in Uncategorized by realitycheck on December 1, 2006

Imagine this, some drunkard  defaces a statue of Ambedkar in Kanpur, in the state of UP.  A thousand kilometers away, a mob of 6000 stop a train, ask the passengers to get down, and set the train on fire. This in addition to three deaths, 60 injuries,  damage to 91 buses, curfews in major towns, and more. Why did this happen ? Why are the Dalits so angry ?

burntrn.jpg 

I think by far CNN-IBN has become the premier news channel. Yesterday, they had a discussion about the dalit violence in which Arun Kamble, and Udit Raj were present. NDTV was busy talking about yet another criminal case involving beautiful rich people (the Nitish Katara case). Check out the interview here.

The statue incident only provided the spark, the Dalits were already furious at the Khairlanji murders.  What went wrong ? Is it wrong to cover the shocking Khairlanji murders with blood curdling photographs of the raped victim ? Did the media go overboard ? Is it wrong to “shock” a nation into action ? Did they play on the already weak psyche of the Dalit ? 

I shudder to think what would happen if anti nationals like Islamic terrorists, Naxals, Maoists, or the underworld decide to exploit the situation. We all know the drill right, circulate a few shocking CDs, a few graphic pictures (which can be downloaded from the net),  a few propaganda flyers, build up rage in the minds of radicals, and you are set.  There are enough extremists who are well versed in the above. In fact, there are already signs that the underworld is fishing in troubled waters. Chotta Rajans brother listed as accused in Mumbai

Responsible folks must sit down and address the root causes for Dalit rage. Isnt one of the most dramatic schemes of social justice helping. By law, 1/4th of all doctors and engineers and educated people must be Dalits in India. Isnt that reaching the needy or first time beneficiary ? If it did reach the ‘stone throwing’ dalit, then what is the reason for such rage.

So what is the reality. Is primary education so broken that the average Dalit student is unable to compete even for reserved seats ? If that is the case, then the government should think twice about investing 25,000 crores in creating management and technical seats for OBCs,  and instead channel it to schools in Dalit areas.

The writing on the wall is clear. It is imperative that Dalits  (not even STs) must be the primary focus of all social justice programs.  Everyone else – whether OBCs or Muslims or STs are secondary.  This is so because the constitution orginally only envisaged social justice programs for Dalits. The government must spend 25,000 crores for OBCs in the least important area of tertiary management and tech education only AFTER the Dalits have been taken care of at the primary and secondary education level.  Indeed, everyone irrespective of caste must be taken care at the primary and secondary level – but Dalits especially so because there is clearly not enough qualified in the community to make even the reserved quota in some institutes. 

I have said in the past on this blog, that I would even support increasing the quota for dalits, if it can fast track them into the mainstream. The spanner in the works, is that even quota for Dalits must be monitored to ensure that all communities benefit in a fair (not necessarily proportional) manner. This is why sub quotas within the Dalit community is a welcome step. If there are more Dalit candidates than available seats, then the creamy layer must be excluded in favor of first time or poor beneficiaries. 

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10 Responses

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  1. Nitin said, on December 1, 2006 at 7:53 am

    Realitycheck,

    I am fundamentally opposed to reservations—for not having a meritocracy will defeat the having of democracy.

    Yet, your argument—that reservations must be focused on creating equality of opportunity, only where such equality is terribly missing—is among the most sensible I’ve seen. Focusing on, and only on Dalits, and on primary education (and largely on primary education) does appear to be the most balanced way forward.

    Now, if only it can secure a political constituency!

  2. […] Update- Reality Check attempts to examine the causes behind ‘’Dalit Rage’’. Responsible folks must sit down and address the root causes for Dalit rage. Isnt one of the most dramatic schemes of social justice helping. By law, 1/4th of all doctors and engineers and educated people must be Dalits in India. Isnt that reaching the needy or first time beneficiary ? If it did reach the ’stone throwing’ dalit, then what is the reason for such rage. […]

  3. Prasanna said, on December 1, 2006 at 9:37 am

    Hi RC

    Khairlanji was descipable and inhuman brutality but do you think that incident had any connection with this

    I hate sounding like those who loony right winger who forever smell conspiracy theories in anything and everything

    But this definitely looks like manufactured street rage aided and abetted by assorted gangup of dubious NGO’S ,missionaries ,left leaning activists with lots of film rolls to afford for their camera. Some RPI elements might have acted as foot soldiers .

    Point to note that Brinda Karat ,Cedric PrAKASH(Only in India can you have organisation like Catholic Secular Forum),Udit Raj have heightened their activities in Maharashtra

    Definitely not a spontaneous Dalit outburst because of the state failure to emanicipate them.

    I fully agree with you that Dalits needs to be focal point of state’s reservation strategy including possibly increased reservation

  4. Reason said, on December 1, 2006 at 2:51 pm

    Prasanna’s guess is correct – check this IE link – http://www.indianexpress.com/story/17674.html – appears like Left and NGO groups jumping in for a harvest following Khairlanji is making dalit political parties worried and they are trying to protect their turf.

    Reservation, btw, is no fix to this. And missionary conversion isn’t a fix either.

  5. realitycheck said, on December 1, 2006 at 2:55 pm

    Thanks for stopping by,

    >> I am fundamentally opposed to reservations—for not having a meritocracy will defeat the having of democracy. >>

    Yes, in a parallel universe there might have been alternatives that might have worked better. Too much water has flown under the bridge now. The task at hand is to rein in the system and direct it only to the most needy.

    The only thing unique about India was not the caste system, but untouchability. Most countries pigeonholed communities or families into professions, ringing a bell in a temple is not necessarily any better than milking cows for example.

    Untouchability is the only phenomenon that requires a medicine as strong as numerical quotas.

  6. realitycheck said, on December 1, 2006 at 3:18 pm

    Reason and Prasanna,

    Thanks for the link. It could well be true that the Dalits are peeved that NGOs/non Dalits/left wingers have “hijacked” the Khairlanji massacre. It is also reported that some maoists are out fishin too. Even so, this kind of violence cannot be pulled off if there are not enough foot soldiers who believe they are somehow getting the short end of the system.

    The quota system is very much part of this – because it is the catch-all social justice platform.

    If the Indian Express story is true, the Dalits should also be upset that the social justice system that is supposed to be directed primarily at them is being extended to OBCs at an unprecendented cost of 25K crores (latest estimate). The spotlight has moved to OBCs then to Muslims (Sachar report).

  7. George said, on December 1, 2006 at 3:34 pm

    In Pune people were coming out of the slums and stoning burning vehicles etc.. because someone desecrated an Ambedkar statue. The slums are desecrating the city what if all the people who don’t like the sight of them march on the slums and set them on fire. What will these asholes do then ? Its probably the easiest thing to do in India, destroy public property and get away with it.

  8. Sharan Sharma said, on December 2, 2006 at 3:30 am

    Hi RC,
    Honestly, was surprised at this take. I might be totally wrong in reading your post in this fashion but it seemed almost like an apology for what these chaps have done. for example:

    >If it did reach the ’stone throwing’ dalit, then what is the reason for such rage.

    This logic can really be used to condone any act of violence. I don’t really think that this ‘outrage’ has anything to do with being shortchanged, feeling helpless etc. This is:

    1) Plain lawlessness in society and the govt./administeration encouraging/tolerating it.
    Were Rajkumar ‘fans’ also outraged when he died? People just need one excuse to go berserk and they know nothing can touch them – as long as they take a name like ambedkar, rajkumar etc.

    And who are protesting? The urban fellas. i haven’t read so far of any stone throwing in a village. Ironically if anyone’s outrage need to be excused, it is those of the rural dalits.

    One has to just travel by a bombay local train on ambedkar’s death anniversary. i remember experiencing it for some years – with ambedkar’s name these fellows used to get into any compartment they liked, harass passengers – and of course travel ticketless. No TC would dare do anything. i don’t know if things have changed. i doubt very much. Looks like in urban India, anything goes under the name of dalit rights.

    2) Political
    To mobilize and orchestrate events like this at the another corner of the country has to mean an organization/s behind it, like you say. We know that bombay civic elections are up soon.

    So (from your reply to Prasanna and Reason above),
    >this kind of violence cannot be pulled off if there are not enough foot soldiers who believe they are somehow getting the short end of the system.

    I don’t think so. For example, tell an illegal bangladeshi immirant to pelt stones in return for a ‘ration card’, of course he’ll do it. Of course, booze, money, promise of regularization of slums etc would work as well. I don’t even know if half of them in this incident knew why they were doing what they were doing. Best part is you cannot be touched because you are fighting for dalit rights!

    3) Irresponsible leadership
    If it is anyone who has betrayed the dalits and ‘lower-castes’ in general it is their own leaders. From naicker to mayawati to udit raj to illiah, all their leaders have stood for is HATE and consequently have little time or use for social development. And i wouldn’t be wrong in saying that some of these guys are plain anti-national (taking the dalit issue to the US congress, for example!).

    So essentially, i’m inclined to delink the two issues – that of providing opportunity to those who deserve it and that of excusing acts of violence under ‘outrage’ and ‘benefits not reaching the needy’. I think they need to be positively and defintely delinked lest they become an excuse for any act of violence.

    Lastly,
    > I would even support increasing the quota for dalits, if it can fast track them into the mainstream

    Actually, RC, i think when you fast-track anyone, rather do a strong base-up approach, it becomes more difficult for them to become mainstream. They get more segregated (eg. IIT hostels) – and anger in them builds up more…want to elaborate on this but i am getting into this really bad habit of leaving long comments,so…:)

  9. realitycheck said, on December 2, 2006 at 4:45 am

    Sharan,
    Thanks for your long comment.
    Under no circumstances can any act of violence, especially vandalism be condoned. We all agree upon that, so I didnt specifically mention that.
    I fully agree that some Dalits know how to work the system, I know of some PSU managers who will not meet dalit activist employees alone. A mere allegation can land them in jail under the prevention of atrocities act. This is also the reason why cops stand by and watch, no one wants to be caught apprehending a dalit. So what is the way to check this ?
    If you look at it a bit closely, you will find that the Dalits are far from a homogeneous group. If you had a monitored system, that would prevent a single or two Dalit groups from cornering all the benefits – it would act as a natural check. The Dalit identity would cease to be a permanent ticket to entitlement if the policy is monitored. The check could take many forms such as priority to first time beneficiaries, or priority to non-creamy layer, or sub quotas or whatever.
    There are enough people who will play on the emotions of Dalits for whatever gains. The dalits who are well positioned will paint a picture of extreme deprivation, so that the benefits to them continue without monitoring. The NGOs and left wing journalists may use stories of shit lifters to add some stars to their bleeding heart shirts. Some Christians may use stories of Dalits to further point out the hopelessnes of remaining as hindu. The common thread among them all, is that they are not really interested in the welfare of the real victims.

  10. coolvyakti said, on December 4, 2006 at 6:46 am

    It is not a surprise that all kinds of “vultures” (read leftists, church, underworld) are keen on getting their pound of flesh by using Dalits. However, the most interesting thing I find is that there is no debate in the media (newpapers) about this organized violence and whether the perpetrators should be apprehanded and asked to pay for all the damage. There is no debate on who should be footing the bill for all this destruction and how year after year India’s “untouchables” (those the law can’t touch; dalits, muslims, shiv sena etc) continue to destroy public property and they are never charged nor are their political masters charged. The whole bill for their orgy of violence has to be paid by the rest of the law abiding citizens.
    It seems for the mainstream media, people simply come out of their rat holes, destroy whatever they feel like and then go back to their dens – and after the destruction…it is just time to move on; till there is another such incident.
    What is amazing that the “normal” people have been taken for granted – seems only these neo untouchables need to be served with one sop after another to passify their illogical anger.


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