My representative forgot me……..

There is an interesting article by Jean Dreze and Amartya Sen in the Outlook

What I found especially interesting was the study done by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS). This is in italics below

“For instance, the fact that not even one of the 315 editors and other leading members of the printed and electronic media in Delhi surveyed recently by the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies belonged to a scheduled caste or scheduled tribe, and that at the other end, 90 per cent belonged to a small coterie of upper castes that make up only 16 per cent of the population, obviously does not help to ensure that the concerns of Dalits and adivasis are adequately represented in public debates.”

 Now even more interesting is the response to this information by the so called concerned civil society. There is one of two responses – denial or silence.

When denial is the choice made – it questions the research findings, the researching body, the objectives, the methodology, the sample size, the geographic representation. It questions EVERYTHING except the possibility that this is seriously damaging and incriminatory data on discrimination, that the upper caste dominates decision making and leaves no room for a dalit voice or even a minority religion voice.

The second choice is silence – total and absolute silence. The argumentative Indian hopes that with a lack of vociferousness, this issue will cease to be a problem at least among the ‘trouble- makers’.

It’s similar to the responses to the recent deaths of three manual scavengers in Kolar Gold Field – silence from the elitist NGOs and their leaders. One really needs to wonder why.

Given this context in Karnataka, it is ironic that the Public health Act, Karnataka has NO mention of the word ‘caste’ or ‘SC/ST’ or even ‘marginalised’ in the 100 page document.

The only statement one sees is “Avoidance of explicit or implicit discrimination in an unlawful manner of individuals on the basis of their race, ethnicity, nationality, religious beliefs, sex, sexual orientation, or disability status” and this, after consultation with ‘reputed’ state level NGOs !!

So how come caste got left out? Did the government and civil society forget? Was it  oversight? Inadvertent oversight?? Would three ‘upper caste’ men ever drown and die due to intoxication while cleaning out a soak pit? Is that why this issue is not a problem – because it is a problem of those who are ‘less than human’ anyway…..

 “If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” – Desmond Tutu.

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