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Saturday, November 7, 2015

caste in cradle

two anganvadis of village Hajipur

In 2014 I have accessed minutes of SCPCR (state commission for the protection of child rights) and found that Madhu Senama, member of commission complained about separate anganvadi for dalit children in Hajipur village of Patan district. Commission as usual, did not act on Madhu's complaint who is the only Scheduled Caste member of the commission.
After a year I visited Hajipur with Hirabhai Solanki and Nagin Dodiya and found that the the separate anaganvadi for dalit children is still functioning. I wrote a letter to Rameshwari Pandya, chair person of the Commission and suggested her to resign because she had no time to work for child rights in the state. Rameshvari for her own prsonal reason resigned from the post. I again talked with new chair person, Bharati Tadvi, who is also a tribal. Bhartiben surprised and asked me why Madhu Senma did not take up the matter. Then, I wrote a letter to Mr. Dagur, additional chief secretary of social welfare department who is also ex-offcio chairman of state child protection society. I asked him to order district authorities to abolish separate anaganvadi for patel children. If patels of Hajipur are not ready to send their children to the anganvadi where dalit children sit, why state should continue such nonsense. I have decided that if Mr. Mathur would not answer my letter, I will file FIR against him under section-4 of Atrocity Act.
I told Ritu sharma, reporter of Indian Express about Hajipur. She made a stroy, but did not mention the efforts done by us. 

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Americans want to scracth what is beneath Modi's skin

“Recently, In America, Narendra Modi said that he wanted to decrease size of Government. But, what he and his party BJP are doing in Gujarat is quite opposite. The Education budget of Gujarat government for the year 2014-15 has provided 38.76 billion as assistance to non-government, private secondary schools and only 1.89 billion has been given to government secondary schools. Every year billion of rupees are showered to private players in education field. This is not just privatization. It is worst than privatization. Even in America, you won’t see this kind of loot of public exchequer,” I told Arundhati Mundlay, political advisor in American consulate General, Mumbai who along with an American diplomat Rishi Kappor came to meet me on 8 October, 2015. They were eager to know about political scenario of Gujarat in the backdrop of Patidar reservation agitation. 

I categorically told Americans that present patidar agitation is product of wrong policies of Mr. Narendra Modi and credit must be given to his ‘development model’ of Gujarat. During last two decades both Narendra Modi and Anandi Patel have jointly ruined economy of Gujarat in general and education in particular. The youth is frustrated. They are not getting jobs and their anger is systematically being diverted against ‘reservation.’

Expressing my views on patidar agitation I told them that though this agitation is meaningless, absurd and violent, its aims and objectives are plausible. A community which has given chief minister, half of the ministers of state cabinet, more than hundred billionaires, more than ten thousand millionaires, and an army of NRIs, industrialists, merchants and traders want reservation in government jobs. It may look ridiculous if we ignore second part of their slogan. First, they say, give us reservation and then they say, if we are not given, abolish reservation.

In fact, Americans are not concerned about reasonability of patidar agitation. They are concerned about investment climate in Gujarat and possible fall out of the agitation. They want to know how fragile the peace process is and how effective the Government intervention can be. They are also curious about retaliation of OBC, SC and ST. They met many people including congress and BJP leaders. Narendra Modi must be worried. His rhetoric in America might have produced something different he may not like to imagine.  

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Hollow celebration in the name of Babasaheb

Today I am not going to recite my poem on the stage of state-wide Dalit Poet Sammelan organised by Gujarat Sahitya Acadamy, a literary body controlled by government.

Gujarat government is not implementing Right to Education Act, 2009. In Ahmedabad city alone there are 842 private schools and government has notified only 382 schools for the implementation of 25% quota for economically weaker sections. In entire Gujarat more than 95,000 seats are available and can be notified, but only 20% of them have been allotted for poor kids. Hundreds of parents are running from pillar to post, from DEO office to schools to get admission for their kids. But, DEO has closed the admission process and there are still many vacant seats in private schools.

NGO Dalit Hakk Rakshak Manch (DHRM) has filed PIL in Hon’ble Gujarat High Court and Hon’ble court has issued notices to 582 private schools warning them to face FIR if the Act is not implemented. This is a historical moment for the educational rights of poor, dalit kids. If the Act is properly implemented it will give free education to more than one lac poor kids in private schools and save one billion rupees of poor parents. Gujarat government is also not implementing RTE in tribal areas, where standard of public schools is very low.

Gujarat government is celebrating 125th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar. Celebrating Babasaheb’s anniversary is a good thing. But, when thousand of poor, dalit kids are deprived of quality education and crores of rupees are spent in the name of celebration, I can’t remain silent. Gujarat government has always sidetracked basic issues of public good in the name of celebrations and ruined millions of rupees. If government wants to pay homage to Babasaheb Ambedkar, it should spend this amount for the poor, dalit students.

I hope my fellow dalit poets will understand the hollowness of this socalled celebration and join with me to achieve real but unfulfilled mission of Babasaheb Ambedkar.

(note:I am least concerned about so-called ‘independence’ of government Acadamy. If this Acadamy is ‘independent’ it may become another Sahitya Parishad, another front of upper caste writers who are not ready to give any space to dalit writers.)

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Thangadh returns

After almost two and half years, Gujarat police filed ‘C’ summary report in Thangadh tragedy that took lives of three Dalit youths, two of them were minor. The cold-blooded murders of Dalit youths by police shook entire Dalit community of Gujarat. First time in the bloody, black history of Dalit massacres three Dalit youths from three different communities, Charan, Chamar and Vankar, laid down their lives on the altar of age-old, nefarious caste-based discrimination, which is now being protected and perpetuated by covert and overt support of BJP rulers.

Dalits of Gujarat would never forget the headlines of next day’s news papers screaming and telling the horrible account of brutal, savage onslaught on Dalit youths who were fighting with dry, sticks of babool trees against police armed with rifles. Two ministers, say mercenaries of Modi government rushed to Thangadh to camouflage a shameless compromise with compensation and filing of FIRs against erring cops. But, Dalits were in no mood to surrender to saffron tactics. A call of ‘Chalo Than’ was given by Ahmedabad-based activists, who then visited Thangadh and persuaded villagers to host a public gathering on 2nd October.

The call was a great success in terms of numbers as more than one lakh Dalits turned at the venue to pay homage to Dalit martyrs, but outcome of the meeting was not heartening as the proceedings of meeting was disrupted by lackeys from both main political parties, congress and BJP. I remember a drunkard, Dalit, BJP councilor of Thangadh Nagarpalika climbed up the stage and tried to snatch mike from a Congress lackey. It was all round anarchy on the stage full of drama watched by a disciplined Dalit audience soaked in shock and gloom. It was not first time I was watching such nonsense in the name of movement. Two and half decades back, in Gandhinagar, too, the stage was collapsed when more than one hundred ‘Dalit leaders’ climbed up the stage maligning great Dalit resistance which culminated to more than five lakh people’s participation in the aftermath of anti-roaster agitation.

Once the excitement and euphoria of agitation subsided, the hard legal course of courts had hardly any takers. With the help of veteran Dalit social leader Valjibhai Patel we could file public interest litigation (PIL) in Gujarat High Court through senior advocate Mukul Sinha. I persuaded Amarshibhai Lakhabhai Sumara, father of Pankaj, who was first victim of the massacre to become petitioner. Mukulbhai did not charge a single rupee and prepared the petition even though he was very busy in his work. Shamsad Pathan and Aiyar, brave heart lawyers in Mukulbhai’s team also contributed in preparing the petition and consequently government was forced to file charge sheet in first FIR no. I/71/12. The present ‘C’ summary report is about another FIR, I/72/12 lodged by Valjibhai Rathod, father of another victim Mehul. Interestingly, IGP Mr. Anil Pratham who is going to approve the ‘C’ summary report belongs to SC and ‘hero’ of some Dalit organizations.

When commando of Harikrishna Patel, SP, Jamnagar fired on Dalit youths from his AK-47 rifle, Suresh Gogia tried to stop commando. Later Gogia was charged of snatching rifle of commando and was jailed with another six Dalits. All other Dalits were granted bail, but Gogia was not bailed out. Again, I requested Mukulbhai to file bail application before Justice Sonia Gokani in Gujarat High Court. After arduous legal battle Gogia was also given bail. With veteran Dalit activist Kanu Sumara, I personally went Surendranagar sub jail and delivered bail order. Gogia was released.

Thangadh battle is challenging because victims are fighting against a state government which is notoriously famous for its defense of killer cops. Thangadh is not an exception as we have seen in caste crimes like Khairlanjee, court verdicts are shockingly anti-Dalit. It is high time; Dalits of India unite under a single banner. Let us choose a day in a year. A day, Dalits of entire country would march to Delhi to slap the rulers. A rally of ten million Dalits is not a big deal.   

Monday, March 2, 2015

Upper caste must think about RSS programme of ‘re conversion"

Those who reconvert to Hinduism can get quota benefit, says apex court of India. This trend will increase reconversion and ‘gharvapasi’, because reservation is tempting. It will also increase population of schedules castes and ultimately percentage of reservation.  This trend is very dangerous for ‘meritorious’ Caste Hindus in general and upper case in particular. For example, convert Christians are in OBC list in Gujarat. Now, if they reconvert to Hinduism they will be called scheduled caste. In future, it will lead to major demographic changes and reservation of SCs may increase from mere seven percent to ten percent. Now, upper caste must think about RSS programme of ‘reconversion. Upper castes can’t support BJP, now.