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Posts Tagged ‘Minorities’

Jan Lokpal Bill will put parliamentary democracy into crisis: Minorities

In News links on September 8, 2011 at 7:41 am

From: Twocircles.net

Jan Lokpal Bill will put parliamentary democracy into crisis: Minorities

7 September 2011 – 12:28pm

By TCN News,

Hyderabad: The Jan Lokpal Bill prepared by Anna Hazare’s Team has such draconian clauses that if that institution is established as they suggested the Indian constitution and the parliamentary democracy will simply get into a crisis, said representatives of the SC/ST/BC and Minority communities.

Addressing a press conference under the banner of Citizens for Social Justice, they urged for the Jan Lokpal Bill to be made election issue of 2014 General Elections. They also demanded nationwide debate on all versions of the Lokpal Bill including that prepared by the Congress-led UPA Government.

Prof Kancha Ilaiah, Dr. John Dayal, Member of National Integration Council, Dr. Joseph D’souza, President of All India Christian Council and many eminent leaders from Muslim, Dalit and OBC communities addressed the press held in Hyderabad on Jan Lokpal Bill on 6th September.

“We as the representatives of the SC/ST/BC Minority communities are of the firm opinion that only after this constitutional governance is put in place, as it was laboriously institutionalized by Dr. B. R. Ambedkar and other nationalist leaders, the representatives of these communities, even in a marginal way, occupied some positions in the state sector. The system has improved the socioeconomic status of the historically oppressed masses in a marginal way. But for the present constitutional system even that would not have been possible,” they said.

“A Lokpal Bill of such powers (whether of Government or of other groups) should be placed before the people as part of political parties’ manifestoes in the general elections. If the BJP and the Team Anna think that the entire nation is with them they should go to election with Jan Lokpal Bill in 2014 and get the approval of the majority. Even the Government Bill, in whatever form it could be, has to be debated by the whole nation in the elections of 2014,” they demanded.

They cannot make us believe that corruption cannot be handled with the existing laws just for two more years. In India’s caste culture if a Dalit or Aadivasi comes to position of eating two meal a day and can send one’s children to school he/she is branded as corrupt. And if an upper caste person builds a house of 400 crore rupees for a small family living he/she is not treated as corrupt. The definition of corruption differs greatly between Dalit-Bahujan, Minorities and Hindutva Anna Hazare forces. Only a national referendum on this issue protects the constitution and democracy, they averred.

The representatives appealed to all the SC/ST/BC and Minority law makers of the country to oppose this mode of introduction of Lokpal Bill and stop it as they have done in the case of Women’s Reservation Bill. They also appealed to the ruling UPA not to yield to Hazare’s political blackmail. The SC/ST/BC and Minorities cannot be deceived with hunger strikes as they were at the time of the Poona Pact

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This is why Team Anna makes me nervous (Bhanwar Megwanshi)

In Perspective on September 4, 2011 at 4:50 pm

From: Tehelka.com

This is why Team Anna makes me nervous

[by Bhanwar Megwanshi]

Anna Hazare’s core group appears to be instinctively anti-democracy, anti-constitution, anti-parliament and possibly anti-minorities

IN THE name of a crusade against corruption, a number of supporters of the caste system, who are also vociferously opposed to reservations for the historically oppressed castes, have got together to stir up a massive agitation against India’s democratic system, insisting that democracy must bow before their dictates. In effect, what they are demanding is that the government must do as it is ordered to by them, and that if it does not do so, they will engineer mass protests, which will make it difficult for a government to survive. These casteist forces, who claim to be protesting against corruption, are being projected by a pliant media as supposedly being the voice of the people of India, but nothing could be further from the truth. In this regard, it is heartening that crores of Dalits, Adivasis and other oppressed people have chosen to clearly stay away from this movement. They have also begun to come out on the streets to protect democracy and the Indian Constitution from the threats posed to both by this casteist movement. They firmly refuse to accept the superpower Jan Lokpal that Team Anna wants to impose on the country.

The Anna Hazare movement shows every sign of being dangerously opposed to democracy, as the defiant rhetoric of the members of Team Anna indicates. They have been issuing repeated challenges to the Constitution, parliament and democracy. A caste-class analysis of this movement is necessary at this juncture to clarify its true nature. It cannot be that the whole country is stupefied into such blind adoration of Anna Hazare that we forget this fundamental task. It is also crucial for us to note that much of the support that Hazare is receiving is actually an expression of a general disgust with widespread corruption rather than an expression of support for a Lokpal of the sort that Team Anna has proposed.

Some might accuse me of seeking to divide the movement at a time when it has garnered popular support by raising the question of the participation or otherwise in it of Dalits, Adivasis, obcs and religious minorities. Such Hazare supporters are bound to raise questions about my understanding of their movement. They might even accuse people, who point out the casteist nature of their movement, of being supportive of corruption simply because we do not support them.

My simple response to them is: Who has given the right to Team Anna and its backers among the middle-class urban Savarna Hindus across India to brand every voice that opposes them as a collaborator of corruption or as lacking in merit? Is it that they still view the world through instrument of the Brahminical texts, according to which Shudras have no rights to study, speak, and even to know, understand and ask, their only task being to slave for others?

The slogans raised by pro-Hazare demonstrators indicate that the Hazare-led movement is distinctly anti-Dalit. It is against the Mandal Commission and the caste census. It is against democracy. Banners of various caste associations were seen fluttering at the Ramlila ground, including of the Krantikari Manuvadi Morchha. Volunteers of this outfit had brought their posters with them, which call for an end to reservations at the same time as they demand the Jan Lokpal. RK Bharadwaj, fervent supporter of Hazare and a key leader of the Krantikari Manuvadi Morchha, declares, ‘Reservations are the root of all corruption. The real revolution will come when the merit-based social system of Manu Maharaj will be reinstated.’

It’s possible that one of the aims of the movement is to create a supergovernment in the form of the Lokpal as formulated by Team Anna, to be used to trap and persecute officials, employees and leaders belonging to the minority communities

The casteist thrust of Hazare’s movement can also be gauged from his stance on the caste question. This devotee of Gandhi is a supporter of the Varna system. He has declared that in every village there must be at least one suthar (carpenter), one kumhar (potter), one sunar (goldsmith) and one chamar (leather-worker). But Babasaheb Ambedkar had told Dalits to give up their demeaning ancestral professions, even if this meant that they had to starve to death, and advised them to leave the villages, dens of caste discrimination, and settle in cities instead. As a votary of Gandhi, Hazare seems to regard village life as ideal. His village of Ralegaon Siddhi is a case in point. For many years, elections have not taken place to the gram panchayat on the grounds that the gram pradhan should be elected unopposed. Can this be in accordance with the norms and ideals of democracy? Using this logic, might it not be possible that someone might demand that a dictator, a Narendra Modi or a Varun Gandhi, or a Raj Thackeray, be declared to be the prime minister unopposed?

It is absolutely necessary at this juncture to point out that Hazare is being used by anti-reservation and anti-Constitution forces. The man behind this entire affair, Arvind Kejriwal, has never been known to be a supporter of Dalits or an admirer of Ambedkar. He did not even hesitate to declare that no reservation can be made for Dalits in the drafting committee for the Lokpal on the grounds that for formulating laws one needs specialisation. When Dalits protested against this, he threw the ball into the government’s court, saying that the government could appoint a Dalit. What sort of contempt for Dalits does this reveal?

Kejriwal remains silent on a key Dalit demand – reservations for Dalits in the private sector. Moreover, he is said to be opposed to reservations in government services. Kejriwal’s close relationship with the vociferously anti-reservation Youth For Equality, a key actor in the Hazare-led movement, is well known. No Dalit or Adivasi has been promoted to leadership positions in his own organisation, Parivartan, and in India Against Corruption, which is solidly backing the Hazare campaign. Not a single person from the Dalit, Adivasi, obc or religious minority communities has been incorporated into the core team of the so-called anti-corruption movement. But, of course, people from these communities have been granted the opportunity of service to the movement as volunteers at the venue of Hazare’s demonstration in New Delhi – to clean up the rubbish, carry loads, spray water and so on. After all, such manual tasks were assigned precisely to these people in Manusmriti itself, and so it is barely surprising that the same Shudras should be doing the same work here, too. From all this, the implications for Dalits and other oppressed castes if Hazare and Kejriwal’s Jan Lokpal comes into effect are clear.

This much is, then, obvious: that Hazare’s so-called anti-corruption movement is distinctly casteist, supportive of the Varna system and opposed to Dalits. It is thus possible that it might soon transform into an anti-reservation movement. It is not far-fetched to suspect that certain forces propelling the movement seek to scrap democracy through the institution of the Jan Lokpal, as devised by Team Anna, because genuine democracy is a menacing threat to the ruling class and caste elites. It is also possible that one of the aims of the movement is to create a supergovernment in the form of the Lokpal as formulated by Team Anna, which can be used to trap and persecute officials, employees and leaders belonging to the Dalit, Adivasi and religious minority communities.

DALITS ARE increasingly seeing through the gameplan of the Kejriwal-Hazare team and are beginning to stridently oppose it. In Hazare’s state, Maharashtra, Dalit groups are demonstrating against this anti-Constitution movement. Days ago, a massive demonstration of Dalits and people from other marginalised communities was organised in New Delhi in order to save the Constitution from the threat posed by this movement. Activists of some Dalit groups are also on hunger strike at Jantar Mantar to support the Constitution and to condemn those who are challenging it. But the so-called mainstream media has not provided them coverage. It has shamelessly suppressed the voices of Dalits who are protesting against those who are bent on subverting democracy because it wants the whole country to go the Hazare way. Why? Because the movement indicates the revival and assertion of Manuvad, and this is what those who control most of the media ardently desire.

What sort of anti-corruption people’s movement is it when, under its guise, crowds of unruly people come out into the streets? When leaders of the movement are instigating people to gherao the houses of mps? Is this a banana republic? Can law and order be surrendered at the feet of Hazare? Why did the media add fuel by providing 24-hour running commentary on this whole affair? Why is the corporate sector funding India Against Corruption? Why are a seemingly unlikely set of companions, ngos and funding agencies, on the one hand, and so-called sadhus, babas and religious institutions, all excitedly bent on turning Hazare into a messiah? Why has Team Anna left out rampant corruption in the media, in ngos, in corporate houses, and in religious bodies like mutts, temples, waqf boards and churches, from the purview of their proposed Lokpal?

Hazare’s hunger fast is not a novel development as far as Dalits are concerned. Many decades ago, MK Gandhi went on a hunger fast – to protest against the demand of Dalits, led by Ambedkar, for separate Dalit electorates. By going on that fast, Gandhi betrayed the Dalits. And today, in the name of the so-called second freedom struggle, and under the guise of fighting against corruption, Hazare goes on a fast, making demands that would lead to the subversion of the Constitution, with dangerous consequences for the Dalits and other oppressed peoples.

Today, Team Anna and the movement that it is spearheading have emerged, despite their populist face, as a potent challenge to democracy. They insist that the country must run according to their dictates. Is the intention of some forces supporting the movement to create chaos and lawlessness? If that happens, Dalits, Adivasis and the religious minorities would be hit most. Is this, then, as many conscious Dalits fear, part of a larger Manuvadi conspiracy to destroy democracy, which the dominant caste-class combine regards as the biggest threat to their hegemony, which is today being increasingly challenged by the historically oppressed peoples of this country?

That is why Dalits and Adivasis, the most heavily-burdened victims of corruption, have chosen to stay away from this movement. They have realised the threat to democracy, as well as to reservations, that this movement poses and are refusing to get fooled by its rhetoric against corruption. They have said a loud No to the unconstitutional Lokpal as envisioned by Team Anna and the lawless movement that, ostensibly in the name of curbing corruption, is backing this demand. They are aware that in the name of this Jan Lokpal an alternative constitutional structure is being imposed, which would prove a monster as far as they are concerned, not hesitating to brutally repress their voice of dissent, their quest for liberation, their dream of equality and freedom.

Translated from Hindi by Yoginder Sikand
Bhanwar Megwanshi is also associated with the Rajasthan-based Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS)
bhanwarmegwanshi@yahoo.com

Why Ramlila surge worries minorities and those on margins

In Commentary, News links on August 25, 2011 at 7:09 pm

From: The Indian Express

by Seema Chishti

Posted: Thu Aug 25 2011, 02:16 hrs New Delhi:

In the unseen and unheard margins of Team Anna’s Ramlila Surge, there’s a growing sense of disquiet —especially among minority and marginalised groups.

Despite carefully choreographed images of Muslim children publicly breaking their Ramzaan fast with Anna Hazare, prominent Dalit, Muslim and Christian leaders are deeply suspicious of the faces on display and the voices emanating from the crowds.

They argue that Anna’s ends — fighting corruption — is undoubtedly justified, they condemn his arrest and the decision to send him to Tihar Jail. But behind his cause, they see a clear disdain for the very institutions crucial in safeguarding democratic freedom and rights. In Team Anna’s contemptuous indictment of Parliament, they see a tarring of representative politics and, in effect, an indictment of the vital safeguards of minorities.

In fact, so strong is the suspicion that even Prashant Bhushan’s left-liberal credentials as one who played a proactive role in the Gujarat riots cases isn’t dispelling these fears. Varun Gandhi’s much-hyped appearance at Ramlila today only reinforced these — in his hate-Muslim election speech in 2009, he had threatened to “cut the hand” of anyone who “raises a finger at the Hindus.”

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Says Akhtar-ul Wasey, Director, Institute of Islamic Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia: “The issue of corruption is such that there’s tremendous pressure to join the crowd. Because if we oppose this particular movement, they will say we are corrupt. Price rise, corruption and unemployment have given a fillip to such forces. Corruption ki aarh mein, (in the garb of corruption) they want to push all kinds of defeated and empty slogans and agendas. Now the government’s timidity in the face of a crowd is fanning this instability. Muslims, of course, want corruption to end but don’t want to make common cause with elements that want to rock the system, the only preserve of our rights and freedoms.”

No wonder that Deoband’s new Mohtamim, Maulana Abul Qasim Nomani, has said that they have not supported this movement: “The movement is basically suspect. The security and protection of Parliament and (to honour the) glory of democracy is the duty of every citizen.”

Mahmud Madani, MP and a leader of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, the only prominent Muslim face among the 20 founders of India Against Corruption — Team Anna’s virtual platform — is now in Saharanpur and practically in communicado. Zafaryab Jilani, member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, has made it clear that the Board has nothing to do with this agitation. Says Maulana Ahmed Khizar Shah Kashmiri of the Tanzeem Ulema-e-Hind: “The idea behind this campaign is to weaken Parliamentary system and democracy and this is a blow to secular India.”

Maulana Umer Ilyasi of the India Imam Organisation has called the campaign a “political conspiracy” saying: “There is no question of any one person being above the country’s Constitution and Parliament. There is no question of Muslims being part and parcel of this.”

This chorus is heard the Urdu press as well. The Mumbai, Kanpur, Bareilly, Lucknow and Delhi-based Inquilab on August 17 interviewed several prominent community leaders, including chief of the Jamat-e-Islami, Maulana Jalaluddin Umri. Their refrain: We agree with the need for a strong Lokpal but not with the method of pushing it through.

Critics are also wary of those who have clambered aboard the Anna bandwagon. Ramdev may have stepped back but there are questions about the more urbane Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and his Art of Living and youth factions who shared the stage with the anti-reservation Youth for Equality. Less than 10 days ago, they took part in the Hindu Unity Day, in Texas. Also present was Subramaniam Swamy, most recently in the news for writing that Muslims should be denied voting rights if they do not accept their “Hindu legacy.”

Indeed, reflecting this unease, Dalit activists and writers including Udit Raj, Kancha Ilaiah, John Dayal and Joseph D’Souza, have argued for reservation in the Lokpal set-up for SC/STs, OBCs and minorities “to ensure that there is no injustice done to the backward and marginalised.”

The politics of Arvind Kejriwal and Kiran Bedi may be fuzzy but their association with certain “causes” has raised questions, too. Last year, Kejriwal and Bedi herself led the drive to target the Chief Information Commissioner and insist that Bedi be made the CIC. In fact, when then CIC Wajahat Habibullah resigned last year and there was a chance that M M Ansari (now Kashmir interlocutor) would take over, Kejriwal lobbied with Leader of Opposition L K Advani keen to ensure that his name not be accepted.

Kejriwal and Bedi have also shared platforms put up by Youth for Equality and Art of Living. On March 1 in 2009, for example, Kejriwal and Bedi addressed the Youth for Equality and talked of both terrorism and corruption. Youth for Equality has blamed reservation for shrinking opportunities.

Archbishop of Delhi Father Vincent Concessao, a founder-member of the IAC, is nowhere to be seen. Contacted, he told The Indian Express: “This is pressure and a fast unto death is suicidal…there is no way we will allow for our established Parliamentary practices to be bypassed. We are with the issue but not with the means. How can they say only one particular version of the Bill is to be followed?”

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