"Dalit Solidarity News" is an information project run by the International Dalit Solidarity Network. News stories are extracts from online newsservices. Link to the full story is found at the end of each blog.
Visit the International Dalit Solidarity Network at www.idsn.org
Formed in 2000, the IDSN is a network of international organisations, national solidarity networks and affected country groups, campaigning against caste-based discrimination throughout the world, from the dalits of South Asia to the Osu of Nigeria and the Burakumin of Japan. Visit our website International Dalit Solidarity Network for more information.
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Thursday, June 02, 2005
Reservation in private sector unlikely
May 31, 2005
It's now almost certain that the government will not push for a legislation to reserve jobs for the scheduled castes and tribes in the private sector.The idea of reservation in the private sector apparently encountered strong resistance from corporate India including groups like the Tatas, Thapars, Mahindras and Aziz Premji.In a letter to the government, the Tata group chairman Ratan Tata on behalf of 21 industry representatives said: "We are reassured to learn from the government that it doesn't intend to resort to legislative action to impose a statutory obligation to reserve jobs in the private sector."Sources in the PMO confirm that the Prime Minister is not keen to set a time-frame for the legislation without a consensus of the industry. Instead of reservations, corporates have promised scholarships, starting schools and vocational training.
Social Empowerment and Justice Minister Meira Kumar, who was initially pushing for a bill, says that these activities are just the beginning of a long process."We have started a dialogue with industry to see how best the private sector can fulfill aspirations of SC and STs. We will follow the Common Minimum Programme," said Meira Kumar.
But the activists who were arguing in favour of the bill say the government has gone back on its promise "Scholarships etc don't mean anything. If a Dalit is educated, he needs a job not a scholarship," said Chandra Bhan, one of the key spokespersons of the Dalit movement in India.
All along India Inc had said that the government should look at providing better access to education to this group rather than reserve jobs for them in the private sector.Today it seems the government is toeing that line when sections say that reservation was an option it only promised to explore.
Link to the article
CII not for job quota in private sector
1 June 2005
NEW DELHI: Even as the Government claimed that major industrial players had agreed on affirmative action including reservation of jobs in the private sector, the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) has opposed the reservation and favoured further dialogue on the issue.
"We do not agree to reservation in private sector for the weaker sections,'' CII's new president, Y.C. Deveshwar, said here on Tuesday.
"CII is in agreement with the objectives of reservation and believes there is a need to devise a long-term productive strategy by closer coordination between private sector and the Government to facilitate job creation,'' he said.
Similar reaction came from Assocham president, N.K. Sanghi, who said that the Chamber had expressed its reluctance and suggested alternative affirmative actions.
The Chamber had declared its stand in writing to the Group of Ministers set up by the Government to look into the issue and said it was ready for further dialogue.
Link to the article
Industry backs plan for SCs, STs
1 June 2005
Support given after assurance that it will not be statutory obligation
"Historic breakthrough for government"
Industry to implement more social justice schemes
Turnaround after initial opposition
NEW DELHI: Several leading industrial houses have backed the Government's commitment to provide greater opportunities to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as part of affirmative action, including job reservation in the private sector.
Corporate houses were assured that the Government would not resort to legislative action to impose a statutory obligation of reservation on them.
Announcing the "historic breakthrough" at a press conference here on Tuesday, the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister, Meira Kumar, said captains of industry had "overcome their initial opposition to stand for the first time on a common platform to recognise the fact that merit is not a natural phenomenon but shaped by social circumstance."
In a joint letter on behalf of more than a dozen corporate houses, the Tata group of companies chairperson, Ratan Tata, said: "The need is not just to provide jobs but incubate the mergence of a robust entrepreneurial class of youth from the SC/ST.
"The imperatives of a competitive economy require that industry place a premium on merit," the letter said.
The industrial houses must create an environment where the SC/STs can become as meritorious as any other youth when they enter their economically productive years.
"We commit to expand our current activities for disadvantaged persons with regard to scholarships, company-run private schools, partnership with government schools, vocational training and other development programme. We will do this through credible voluntary groups and implement in letter and spirit a programme of affirmative action to empower persons who are socially and economically backward,'' the letter said.
The signatories were "reassured to learn from the Government that it had no intention of resorting to legislative action to impose a statutory obligation of reservations on industry."
The signatories to the letter include Anu Aga (Thermax group of companies); Rahul Bajaj (Bajaj group); Kumaramangalam Birla (Aditya Birla group); Naushad Forbes (Forbes Marshall India); Jamshyd N. Godrej (Godrej and Boyce Manufacturing Company Ltd); F.T. Khorakiwala (Switz group); H.F. Khorakiwala (Wockhardt Ltd); Suresh Krishna (TVS Group); Keshub Mahindra (Mahindra and Mahindra); A.C. Muthiah (First Leasing Company of India); B. Muthuraman (Tata Steel); N.R. Murthy (Infosys); Deepak Parekh (HDFC Bank); Azim Premji (Wipro); S. Ramadorai (Tata Consultancy Services); Gurpreet Singh (Continental Devices); and Gautam Thapar (Crompton Greaves). The others who signed the letter were Tarun Das and Sunil Kant Munjal, former chairpersons of the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), A.S. Ganguly, former chairman of Hindustan Lever and Rafiq Zakaria, academician.
Ms. Kumar said it was a big achievement for the Government since there was opposition when the concept of affirmative action, including reservation in private sector was mooted about a year ago. "That the corporate houses have agreed to discuss affirmative action shows that Indian industry fully supports the Government in addressing this important social goal. This is the first step towards a bigger goal we are targeting to achieve.''
Denying that the industry had agreed to the concept of affirmative action after an assurance from the Government that it would not insist on legislation, Ms. Kumar said there was no mention of any legislation in the national common minimum programme of the United Progressive Alliance Government. "But a commitment on affirmative action would subsequently include job reservation in the private sector.'
Link to the article
Monday, May 30, 2005
Education for wealth creation
28 may 2005
Around 30 million Dalit and Adivasi children are enrolled in thousands of primary schools. Out of them, 49.35 per cent drop out before joining junior high school. As a result, a large number of Dalits and Adivasis are unable to take up more respectable jobs and are forced to slog as labourers, who earn as little as Rs 40 a day.
Around 67.77 per cent Dalit and Adivasi children drop out before joining Class IX. What kind of work would these children be able to do when they grow up? Most of them will forever toil as labourers and earn a measly Rs 45 a day, which is less than $1.
Government statisticians, however, list these children as 'literate', and celebrate the report.
All attempts to arrest this mammoth dropout rate, despite offering mid-day meal as incentive, have failed miserably. Parents of these children live in utter poverty, but they want their wards to see better days.
That's why they get their children enrolled in Government schools despite financial hardships. But after a few days or months, they realise that their children are needed more at home so that they can contribute to the family's income.
These children, nearly three fourth of all Dalit and Adivasi children, remain wage earners all their life.
The Government has shown no interest in giving these children Rs 8 or Rs 10 per day, a constant demand of the Dalit Diary.
The money will be an attractive incentive for parents to let their children study in school. If these children manage to get a high school degree, it will enable them to make better use of their life.
The Dalits and Adivasis have suffered for ages, and a majority of them are still suffering.
Now let's relate the subject with the Indian economy. To an amateur economist like me, it might be a shock to learn that Mexico's economy is bigger than India's. Mexico's population stands at 106 million and has a GDP of $474.9 billion. Brazil is not just about carnivals and football.
Its 186 million people have created a GDP of $760.3 billion. Compare these figures with India's whose GDP is worth $459.7 billion despite the country boasting of over a billion people. The Chinese economy is three times bigger than India's.
Those familiar with even a rudimentary knowledge of economics would understand that India still has a long way to go as far as wealth creation is concerned.
When a farmer produces food grains worth Rs 100, he contributes the same to GDP's growth.
When a singer charges Rs 100 for a song, he creates wealth valued at Rs 100 and contributes to the GDP. Similar is the case with a Dalit rickshaw-puller who earns Rs 50 a day.
While a high-school pass Dalit rickshaw-puller demands Rs 5, another Dalit rickshaw-puller may settle for Rs 3 for the same distance if he has just received primary education.
Similar is the case of a Dalit driver. If he speaks fluent English, he may demand a salary of Rs 5,000 from his boss.
If he is high-school pass, he may settle for Rs 3,000 for the same job. The same logic applies in all fields, be it agriculture, industry, or the service sector.
Thus, if the Centre spends Rs 8 a day on a Dalit or Adivasi student and continues to invest the amount for eight years, he will create wealth of Rs 100 a day for the next 68 years. This means, more than a 100 per cent jump in the national GDP and a much more fruitful contribution from the Dalits.
Fortunately, India's Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh is an economist himself, and so is his deputy Dr Montek Singh Ahulwalia who heads the Planning Commission, a task he has taken upon himself to re-craft the country's destiny.
It's sheer business sense to invest in people, upgrade their skills so that they can earn more for the country.
The Dalits or Adivasis are largely out of the education system not by choice. They are economically crippled not because they have committed any mistake.
They are backward because of the man-made social order which required that they be excluded from the education system. The fact that almost every Dalit or Adivasi child is being enrolled in schools shows the community is keen on getting educated.
How can the economy grow if we exclude one-fourth of our workforce from the system?
Link to the article
HRW asks Clinton to call for creation of strong HR protection in Tsunami hit Indian coastal villages
27 May 2005
By M Rama Rao
Human Rights Watch (HRW) wants former U.S. President Bill Clinton, now visiting Asia as the United Nations’ special envoy on tsunami recovery, should speak out against reconstruction efforts that foster discrimination against vulnerable groups, in particular women and lower-caste people in Indian coastal villages.Clinton is in India this week to survey post-tsunami reconstruction efforts in southeastern coastal areas, particularly the hard-hit state of Tamil Nadu, where more than 2.7 million people were affected. More than 10,000 were killed and nearly 65,000 others were displaced.In a 47-page report released in Mumbai on Thursday,
Human Rights Watch examined the Indian government’s response to the tsunami. It documents several systemic and potentially enduring failures.
While applauding the Indian government’s overall response to the tsunami, it opines that the governmental recovery efforts did not adequately take into account the needs of different vulnerable segments of the affected population, particularly women, children, the disabled, Dalits (untouchables) and tribal groups.”The slogan of tsunami recovery efforts throughout Asia has been ‘Build back better,’” said Brad Adams, Asia director for Human Rights Watch. “Bill Clinton should urge the Indian government to build in human rights protections that are better than what existed before.
In a May 10 letter to Clinton, Human Rights Watch explained its concerns about the reconstruction effort in tsunami-affected areas in three countries on his itinerary: India, Sri Lanka and Indonesia. In addition to country-specific issues, the letter set forth two general problems observed HRW researchers during recovery and reconstruction efforts: Historically marginalized groups suffered discrimination, and government relief efforts failed to adequately consult with local communities about relocation and compensation for loss of livelihood and property.
”Whether it’s higher-caste groups and developers in India, or the military and armed groups in Indonesia and Sri Lanka, the powerful have tried to take advantage of the scramble for rebuilding and recovery at the expense of the basic rights of vulnerable groups,” said Adams.
In India Human Rights Watch documented discrimination against Dalits by other victims of the tsunami, who belonged to a higher caste. In many instances, the Indian government failed to enforce its existing legislation and policy to protect vulnerable groups. Human Rights Watch urged the Indian government to undertake effective training and education-both for officials and the affected communities-part of its disaster management strategy.
Human Rights Watch also urged the Indian government to take steps to ensure that its proposed compensation and relocation schemes do not overlook tens of thousands of people who cannot easily document their economic and property claims. In particular, the most marginalized communities-those without effective local or political clout-are at risk of being ignored.
[...] HRW has a recipe to improve the situation. It is: “improve public education and law enforcement efforts to better combat caste-based discriminatory practices and fully implement the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995; Seek to restore a sustainable livelihood for all communities of fishermen by ensuring that fishermen have adequate access to the coastline, and have proper boats and implements necessary to resume their trade; Seek to restore a sustainable livelihood for communities indirectly affected by the tsunami; such measures include creating compensation mechanisms that account for non-tangible assets, and providing alternate employment for daily wage labourers in local reconstruction efforts; Provide equitable distribution of resources without caste, gender, or religious prejudice; provide adequate measures to meet the protection needs of women, children and the disabled; engage in consultations with local communities to prevent arbitrary or discriminatory relocation or any unreasonable denial of the option to return home; and encourage cooperation among government officials, nongovernmental organizations and donor agencies to prevent uneven or inefficient distribution of resources.
Read the full article