Friday, December 1, 2017

Forced to lick his own saliva, barber's nefarious condition possesses a question on India's social justice

During colonial era British used to consider Indians as low class people. It was visible in their value system and behavior. Indian judges were not allowed to decide on rape cases where victim is a British woman and accused is an Indian; during World War II life of Europeans become more import than that of Indians which resulted in the diversion of food Bengal to Europe). This of course resulted in tragic Bengal famine. What more, there were separate places for Europeans and Indians to watch movie in theatres.

Millions participated in independence movement, to escape from these inhuman conditions. They might have expected that independent India will be different. But no, see where we are now. When British left India's caste hierarchy just lost top layer; rest remained the same. New masters came and continued to treat those below as second class; those second-class people considered castes below them as third class... So, on and forth.

Consider these incidents,

a. Barber Forced To Lick His Saliva For Trying To Enter Sarpanch's House In Bihar. The barber's misery did not end there as he was then beaten by women with their slippers in full public view - NDTV

b. On 21 April 2010, 18 Dalit homes were torched and two Dalits—17-year old Suman and her 60-year old father Tara Chand—were burnt alive. The incident happened after a dog barked at Rajinder Pali, son of a Jat while he passing buy Balmiki colony at night on his bike - IndiaTimes

c. 11 July, 1996, 21 Dalits were slaughtered by Ranvir Sena militiamen in Bathani Tola, Bhojpur, Bihar. Among the dead were 1 man, 11 women, six children and three infants, who were deliberately singled out by the attackers. More than 60 members of Ranvir Sena, a private militia of Bhumihars in Bihar descended on the village and set 12 houses on fire.  The attack was reportedly in retaliation for the earlier killing of nine Bhumihars in Nandhi village, by the CPI(M-L) - IndiaTimes

d. In 1991, a young dalit graduate was beaten up  after his feet unintentionally touched a Reddy man in a Cinema hall. The dalits of Chundur village in Guntur district supported their youth. Irked by this, the dominant Reddys of the village massacred 13 dalits. - IndiaTimes

e. A dalit family was stripped naked on road including a woman by none other than police in Greater Noida near the Capital. - India Times

f. Hari Om Katheria, 35, his wife Meera and brother Shyam Sunder were thrashed by Chhotey Lal, an upper caste Thakur, for not greeting him with a ‘Ram Ram’ - HT

g. Group of youths belonging to the Dalit community who were skinning a dead cow were beaten up by cow vigilantes, alleging that they had killed the cow - The Hindu

h. EIGHTY DALIT families from Kadkol in Karnataka's Bijapur district, The Hindu reported last month, were "punished" by caste Hindus of the village with social and economic boycott for drawing drinking water from the village tank to which they had been denied access for decades - The Hindu

i. Since June 2013, Tamil Nadu has seen the murder of 80 young men and women who dared to marry or fall in love in violation of strict caste rules but not a single conviction - HT 

j. Bhanwari Devi is a dalit social-worker from Bhateri, Rajasthan, who was gang raped in 1992 by higher-caste men angered by her efforts to prevent an early marriage in their family. She was ill-treated by the police and the court acquitted the accused. A state MLA organised a victory rally in the state capital Jaipur for the five accused who were now declared not guilty, and the women’s wing of his political party attended the rally to call Bhanwari a liar. She was ostracised by members of her own caste and community and when her mother died, her brothers did not even allow her to participate in the funeral - FeminismInIndia

Problem with caste is, it's a birthmark, a kind of fingerprint. Being good or bad in life is not going to change that person's caste. It is to be remembered here that, victims of this caste hierarchy are also not above blame. Those in upper ladders of lower caste hierarchy treat those below in almost in the same way as upper caste treat them.

Unfortunately, this caste division is not going to end any time soon. Education can change it, but now-a-days education is a shortcut to become doctor or engineer; not for creating scientific temper or reasoning ability (other than the one required to pass exams).

What is required is a focused drive to empower the lowest layer in caste hierarchy by conducting workshops among them, reason with them, make them landowners, break the ghettos and give them a viable lasting job to meet day to day expenses. Conventional methods are not going to work with the speed we need. Those who want to see a model can study how Kerala - once notorious for caste divisions - broke the entire system by redistribution of land, universal education and mass social reforms organized and driven by passionate people. Let’s move away from conventional methods and do something different this time.


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Padmavati, real or fiction?

Whoever watching Indian media outlets recently will have a feeling that the most imortant thing Indians are currently interested in is Padmavati - the bollywood movie by Sanjay Leela Bansali. Print and electronic media already spent considerable amount of time and resources in this, which not only give free publicity to movie but also for some finge elements. Numerous weeks passed by; still there isn't any sign of this news fading away. Politicians, fringe outlets from Rajasthan and many other groups poured as much oil as they could to keep the issue alive. Now, a parliamentary committee on IT called director of Padmavati to explains his views.

I was shocked to read this news. When was the last time our parliament was assembled? How much time our elected representative spends in Sansad Sadan to debate on core topics? How many mantains an attendence rate about 90%? How many bills are actually getting discussed before passed by the house? Well, the answer is disappointing. Still they found time to call Bansali.

Problem with the movie Padmavati is the allegation that there are some intimate scenes between movie characters - queen of Chittor Padmavati and then ruler of Delhi Sultanate Allavuddin Khalji. Opponents (whose opposition is not limited to vocal one) says movie is a distortion of history and an attack on Rajput honor. Problem with that argument is, story of Padmavati don't have good historical footing. 

What we know is Alauddin Khalji was then ruling Delhi. Here Delhi dooesn't simply means current New Delhi. His kingdom included current Pakistan, Northern and Western India, portions of central India and huge chunk of South Indian kingdoms were his tributaries. It is also try that he fought a battle in Chittor in 1303 AD and conquered the kingdom. There is some  historical evidence that king Ratnasimha was then ruling Chittor kingdom. What we don't know is whether Padmavati is real or not. Movie is based out, in fact the story of Padmavati is based on Malik Muhammad Jayasi's epic book Padmavat written in 1540 AD. Close to two and half centuries after the siege of Chittor. As per Wikipedia quote of historian Kishori Lal - "Ratnasimha had ascended the throne in 1301, and was defeated by Alauddin in 1303 whereas Padmavat claims that Ratnasimha spent 12 years in quest of Padmavati, and then 8 years in conflict with Alauddin".

Well, we don’t know whether the character Padmavati is real; we also don’t know whether there is any intimate sequence between the character Padmavati and Khilji in the movie.

By the way it is to be remembered here that, despite all cruelties attributed to Allavuddin Khalji, he is also the ruler who fought and successfully stopped Mongolian invasion of India and led charge to territories under Mongol control. He was also successful in conquering a major part of India and what is now as Pakistan.


Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Constitution Day of India

Just like any other day, Nov 26 also gone. Decades back on this very day, constituent assembly of India adopted the constitution of India. The foundation, from which executive, legislature and judiciary draws power and look for guidance. Our constitution is the biggest in the world and probably the one which underwent largest number of changes. 

It may not be perfect, but numerous sections in that very book empowered Indians to understand and demand for their rights. It is also true that, we often short circuit the book by introducing frequent changes to it and by adding several laws as part of 9th schedule. By the way, 9th schedule was not part of original constitution. This schedule was later added through 1st amendment. Governments over a period, added numerous laws to this section which otherwise won’t survive judicial scrutiny. The book also contains sections which split Indian society midway; like reservation etc. 

Still, constitution of India remains as the foundation of laws in India and guides Indian society. There were, and are, many groups which while enjoying the facilities guaranteed by constitution trying to suppress other’s rights. These forces are there in every country at all time. Hope that our constitution will remain as the guiding light for India in future. At the same time, our bulky constitution also needs to be fine-tuned from time to time without taking away the fundamental rights.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

No more Child Sex, at least legally

As per Indian laws, age of consent for sex is 18 years. That means sexual intercourse with a girl under 18 can put the person behind bar. But there is loop hole to this law provided by section 375 of IPC. Per that, if girl is more than 15 years only then marital sex is permitted.

Now many of us may wonder what is the problem with that any way she is his wife. Well, it is not as simple as it seems.

At the age of 15 one person might not be with in right mental capacity to take big decisions like marriage and sex which is going to affect him/her for rest of the life. In addition to that, there are many reported incidents where rich people especially from middle east marry under aged girls have sex and then divorce them. Another anomaly with this law is if in normal cases girl must be 18 years old to be eligible for sexual intercourse legally then how come in married case it can be lowered to 15.

This is the anomaly SC corrected yesterday. As per the judgement,
The minimum age of marriage now laid down by law (after 1978) is 18 years in the case of females and the relevant clause of Section 375 should reflect this changed attitude. Since marriage with a girl below 18 years is prohibited (though it is not void as a matter of personal law), sexual intercourse with a girl below 18 years should also be prohibited – SCI Judgement

This is indeed a good step (of course if other wings of administration implement it properly) in reducing abuses against girls. Marriage at ages as young as 15 is not only forcing her to have sexual intercourse; but also, depriving her of schooling, education and childhood. Without education, she won’t able to understand her rights and achieving financial freedom is difficult if not impossible.


Monday, October 16, 2017

Bangalore Rains – Water and Potholes Everywhere

Almost every day, especially in the evening, heavy rains are hitting the city. This is supposed to be a moment of happiness after longs years to draughts and dwindling water table. Before rains, huge number of bore wells were running dry. People dug to such an extent that, even magma may start coming out. However, what is supposed to be happy moment turned out to become a disastrous one when low quality roads coupled with bad design crumpled under the pressure of downpour.

Pot holes suddenly became much bigger. In many pleases there were hardly any roads. Thanks to bad design, water clogged at the beginning of flyovers, in underpasses etc. Basements of buildings which are constructed below ground level were flooded with water. Many service roads and other connecting roads lost most of their blacktop and became storm water drainages. Needless to say, this created a nightmare for drivers especially bikers. Even major arteries lost lot of black top and many parts of it became non-navigable.

Major reason for this havoc is not rains, its bad quality of road construction and design of public infrastructure. As rains became a rare phenomenon in previous years, quality of roads went down significantly. To an extent this was compensated by frequent maintenance. Roads doesn’t last long but frequent maintenance kept things under carpet. Commuters were angrier about blocks than quality of road.

This time rain exposed the real strength of public infrastructure in Bangalore. We don’t need any cyclone but a fortnight’s heavy rain is enough to bring this city to a halt.

Problems are not limited to roads and flyovers. Lakes are filled with industrial water and it vomits white forms and foul smell. Water in lakes like Agara, Vurthur etc are untouchable for all practical purposes. It was courts which pulled up the administration to do something with lakes. Now due to rain focus moved towards roads and people are going to forget lakes for a while. I am sure, a massive infrastructure revamp will happen after rains. Lots of roads will be widened, re-tarred etc. I am also sure that, hardly anyone is going to check the quality of those work products. Hardly anyone is going to care about its design. BWSSB and private parties are going to dig up the road wherever they need going to leave a mess behind.