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Bihar Elections: 52.24% voting till 5 pm, turnout could be more


Bihar Elections: 52.24% voting till 5 pm, turnout could be more

Mentioning that the turnout was more than “previous assembly elections as well as Lok Sabha elections”, Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha said the first phase of elections concluded “very peacefully” with a few “stray incidents”.

The Covid-19 pandemic could not affect voters’ enthusiasm in the first phase of polls in Bihar as the state registered 52.24 per cent turnout till 5 p.m. on Wednesday, the Election Commission of India said here.

Mentioning that the turnout was more than “previous assembly elections as well as Lok Sabha elections”, Deputy Election Commissioner Umesh Sinha said the first phase of elections concluded “very peacefully” with a few “stray incidents”.

Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora said a total of 52.24 per cent turnout was registered by 5 p.m. after the polling at 31,371 polling stations in 71 Assembly segments in 16 districts of Bihar, including 12 Left Wing Extremist (LWE) districts. The polling began at 7 a.m.

As the polling took place at different times depending upon the area, the turnout could be more as polling at some places was on till 6 p.m.

The elections gathered momentum in the afternoon as the voting started at a sluggish pace due to technical glitches at some of the polling booths.

Violent incidents were reported in some parts of Bihar including in Kaimur district where two groups comprising more than 50 people attacked each other.

They were dispersed by paramilitary force personnel. The situation is now under control. Tekari is another place apart from Ara where an altercation between supporters of two alliances was reported.

The Election Commission had established 31,380 polling booths in 16 districts. There are 1,066 candidates are testing their luck in the first phase.

In all, 41,689 ballot units, 31,371 control units and 31,371 VVPATs were deployed in the elections.

Out of these, the replacement rate has been 0.18 per cent for ballot units, 0.26 per cent for control units and 0.53 per cent for VVPATs as per a report at 10 am, the ECI said.

In the first phase, 1,066 candidates, including 114 women are in the fray.

However, the ECI claimed that the EVM problem was solved shortly after the fault was detected, voters have to wait in queues for over an hour and some even returned home without casting votes. Due to the technical snags, the functioning of over 75 EVMs or VVPATs in Munger, Arwal, Gaya and Nawada districts of Bihar got affected.

Voters in Gaya, Jahanabad, Aurangabad, Jamui, Bhabhua, Sasaram, Baka, and Kaimur also complained of technical and other errors in EVMs.

Due to this, polling started late by 30 minutes to 2 hours at several places.

In Munger, technical glitches in Electronic Voting Machines or EVMS were reported in polling booths 165 and 231. The polling agents at these booths claimed that one EVM had the name of RJD candidate but the party poll symbol was missing.

Besides, similar glitches were reported at polling booths in Bihiya village in Bhojpur district, booth number 245 in Rohtas district, Voter Verifiable Paper Audit Trail machine at booth number 26.

Elections are to be held in three phases for the 243 Assembly seats in Bihar. The second phase of voting for 94 seats will be on November 3 and for the third phase of 78 seats will be on November 7. Counting will take place on November 10.




Smriti Irani tests positive for Covid


Smriti Irani tests positive for Covid

Taking to Twitter, Irani said: “It is rare for me to search for words while making an announcement; hence here’s me keeping it simple – I’ve tested positive for COVID and would request those who came in contact with me to get themselves tested at the earliest.”

Women and Child Development Minister Smriti Irani on Wednesday became the latest Union Minister to be infected by coronavirus.

Taking to Twitter, Irani said: “It is rare for me to search for words while making an announcement; hence here’s me keeping it simple – I’ve tested positive for COVID and would request those who came in contact with me to get themselves tested at the earliest.”


Earlier, Union Home Minister Amit Shah, and AYUSH Minister Shripad Y. Naik were among those infected. Chief Ministers like Madhya Pradesh’s Shivraj Singh Chouhan and Karnataka’s B.S. Yediyurappa had also tested positive.

 

 




Ration dealers in WB complain to Mamata Banerjee about ‘no commission’ since lockdown


Ration dealers in WB complain to Mamata Banerjee about ‘no commission’ since lockdown

Reportedly, among a total of 20,780 ration dealers in the state, only 25% have received their deserving share of commissions for delivering free grains.

Ration dealers in West Bengal have complained about improper commission under the free ration delivery schemes, announced by both the Central and the State Governments, since the COVID-19 imposed lockdown began.

As per calculations, the dealers were supposed to get Rs 70 for each quintal of wheats, grains and pulses they delivered. However, they have complained that there had been no earning on grains for the last seven months, reported Bengali daily Sangbad Pratidin.

The dealers have blames a nationalised bank for not earning anything on delivering grains. Unable to get their deserving shares, the All India Fair Price Shop Dealers Federation (AIFPSD) wrote a complaint letter to Mamata Banerjee’s and to State Food Minister Jyotipriya Mallick’s office.

Despite the food department’s regular allocation of funds for rations, the banks did not allow the flow of that funds to their desired destination, alleged the angered ration dealers.

“We have information from the office that our shares of the fund are regularly transferred to the bank. Instead of forwarding that to us, the bank is investing the money elsewhere,” AIFPSD general secretary Biswambhu Basu was quoted as saying by the Bengali daily.

Reportedly, among a total of 20,780 ration dealers in the state, only 25% have received their commisions. The rest have recieved nothing and that is what the dealers have mentioned in their complaint to the CM and the food minister.

In between this heated situation, news has come out that the Central Government will not be sending free rations from November, enraging the dealers further.

New Delhi has informed Kolkata that due to the latter’s failure of a proper and advance assessment of how much rations was delivered in the month of September, the Central Government has decided not to provide West Bengal with free rations anymore.

According to the Centre’s complaint, the West Bengal government was asked to give an advance estimation by August end of how much wehats, grains and pulsed would be required in September. Without paying any heed to its demand, Mamata Banerjee administration updated the calculation only at the end of September.

This is what has infuriated the BJP-led Central Government. Due to their latest decision, West Bengal will miss more than 952 metric tonnes of rations.




Covid update: India records 7.64% active cases of total caseload, fatality rate at 1.5%


Covid update: India records 7.64% active cases of total caseload, fatality rate at 1.5%

India’s coronavirus case tally stands at 79,90,322 with 6,10,803 active Covid-19 cases. The active cases in the country which comprise 7.64 per cent of the total caseload.

With a spike of 43,893 new coronavirus cases in the last 24 hours, India Covid-19 tally nears the 80 lakh mark, according to Ministry of Health.

India’s coronavirus case tally stands at 79,90,322 with 6,10,803 active Covid-19 cases. The active cases in the country which comprise 7.64 per cent of the total caseload.

The Health Ministry on Wednesday said, “Signifying a landmark achievement, India has registered continuous decline in the average daily new Covid-19 cases over the past five weeks.”

In the last 24 hours, the country has recorded 58,439 recoveries taking the total recoveries to 72,59,509. The recovery rate now stands at 90.85 per cent.

India remains the second-worst Covid hit nation in the world and has recorded 508 deaths in the last 24 hours. With this, the death toll now stands at 1,20,010 and fatality rate of the country stands at 1.50 per cent.

Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka, West Bengal and Delhi have reported the maximum cases in the last 24 hours. These states together account for 53 per cent all the new cases of coronavirus in the country.

Maharastra which remains the worst affected state has reported a singe day spike of 5,363 Covid-19 cases taking the states’s total tally to 16,54,028 cases and 43,463 fatalities.

Kerala and West Bengal have reported 5,457 and 3,957 cases respectively  taking the state’s tally to 4,02,674 and 3,57,779.

Delhi has reported 4,853 new Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours, taking the total to 3,64,341 cases and 6,356 fatalities.

India has conducted a total of 10,66,786 tests, taking the total tally of Covid-19 tests conducted to 10,54,87,680.




2 terrorists killed in Budgam encounter


2 terrorists killed in Budgam encounter

The firefight between terrorists and security forces started on Tuesday evening and took place after security forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation on the basis of a specific information about presence of terrorists.

Two terrorists have been killed in an ongoing encounter that started between terrorists and security forces at Mochua area in Central Kashmir’s Budgam district, officials said.

The firefight between terrorists and security forces started on Tuesday evening and took place after security forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation on the basis of a specific information about presence of terrorists.

As the security forces zeroed in on the spot where terrorists were hiding they came under a heavy volume of fire that triggered the encounter.

“Two unidentified terrorists have been killed as the search operation is still on,” police said.




Infantry Day celebrated in J&K


Infantry Day celebrated in J&K

The bold and gallant actions carried out by the Indian Infantry Battalions in the ensuing days ensured that the nefarious designs of Pakistan Army were forcefully defeated.

The 74th ‘Infantry Day’ to mark landing of the Indian Army in Srinagar on this day in 1947 to thwart attempts of the Pakistan troops and raiders to grab Kashmir was celebrated on Tuesday by the Ladakh based ‘Fire & Fury’ Corps at Leh with traditional solemnity and reverence.

Lieutenant General PGK Menon, General Officer Commanding, ‘Fire and Fury’ Corps, laid a wreath at the War Memorial in Leh and paid homage to all the brave heroes, who have made the supreme sacrifice in the line of duty.

Indian Army celebrates 27th October every year as the ‘Infantry Day’, as it was on this day that the 1st Battalion of the SIKH Regiment landed at Srinagar airbase and displayed resoluteness and extraordinary courage to thwart the evil designs of the Pakistan Army, who had invaded Kashmir with the help of tribal raiders.

The bold and gallant actions carried out by the Indian Infantry Battalions in the ensuing days ensured that the nefarious designs of Pakistan Army were forcefully defeated.

In the Ladakh Sector, Infantry battalions of the Indian Army have been part of every war fought in the Sector, bringing laurels to the Army and to the Nation. The saga of courage and sacrifice displayed during the battle of Rezang La in 1962 and more recently during Operation VIJAY in the Kargil Sector are testimonies to the spirit of sacrifice of the Indian Infantry soldier.

Of the 21 Param Vir Chakras awarded till date, seven PVCs were awarded to officers and men who fought in the Ladakh Sector, including three posthumous awards.

In his message, Lieutenant General Menon complimented the Infantrymen for their devotion to duty and indomitable spirit, while serving under trying and difficult conditions. He acknowledged their invaluable contribution in maintaining the sanctity of the nation’s borders in the Ladakh region, with fortitude and elan. He also called upon all ranks of the ‘Fire & Fury’ Corps to continue to draw inspiration from the heroic deeds of the bravehearts and always keep ‘Nation First’ in all their endeavours.




India will drive global energy demand: PM Narendra Modi


India will drive global energy demand: PM Narendra Modi

India’s energy future is bright and secure, Modi said, adding access to energy should be affordable and reliable.

India will drive the global energy demand, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Monday as he showcased his government’s recent reforms in the sector to global investors.

Speaking at the India Energy Forum by CERAWeek, Modi said the coronavirus pandemic had resulted in global energy demand falling by one-third, investment decisions being impacted and predictions of a contraction in demand over the next few years.

But India is likely to see energy consumption double over the long term, he said.

This at a time when the country fast embraces cleaner and renewable sources of energy.

India, he said, was on track to meet its COP21 commitment of raising electricity generation from renewable energy sources to 175 gigawatts by 2022.

“We have further extended the target to 450 GW by 2030,” he said, adding India has one of the lowest carbon emissions.

Stating that India saw transformational reforms in the energy sector in the last five years, the Prime Minister highlighted changes in oil and gas exploration and production regime as well as gas marketing.

“India’s reform journey has been on the high speed in the last five years,” he emphasised.

While the focus is to make India a gas-based economy, the nation would also be raising oil refining capacity from 250 million tonnes per annum currently to 450 million tonnes by 2025 to keep self-reliance in sync with demand, he said.

India’s energy future is bright and secure, Modi said, adding access to energy should be affordable and reliable.

“Our energy sector will be growth-centric, investor-friendly and environment conscious,” he added.




IIT Roorkee organizes five-day virtual faculty development programme


IIT Roorkee organizes five-day virtual faculty development programme

Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Roorkee organized a five-day virtual faculty development program on Modelling and Simulation of Energy System that received an enthusiastic response from about 160 members of various AICTE-approved engineering colleges across India.

It was the joint initiative of the Department of Hydro and Renewable Energy, IIT Roorkee, in association with AICTE Training and Learning (ATAL) Academy. The initiative aimed at sensitizing the participants towards research in renewable energy technologies along with imparting them hands-on training for their modelling and simulation in line with “Energy Swaraj”- self-sufficiency in energy through enhanced use of renewable energy technologies.

The workshop was graced by Prof Ajit K Chaturvedi, Director of IIT Roorkee, in the presence of Prof SK Singal, Head of the Department of Hydro and Renewable Energy (HRED), IIT Roorkee, along with senior faculty members, Prof RP Saini and Prof Arun Kumar from HRED, IIT Roorkee, and Prof Rangan Banerjee from IIT Bombay.

“Adoption of renewable energy will play a pivotal role in mitigating the adverse impact of climate change and also improve the decentralised generation of energy. It will help improve consumption of locally generated energy thus improving self-reliance,” said Prof Ajit K Chaturvedi, Director, IIT Roorkee.

The programme presented the benefits of modelling and simulation at different levels of process development ranging from design to process economics and life cycle assessment. Furthermore, different renewable energy sources such as biomass, solar and hydro provided a comprehensive experience to the faculty members.

The workshop was managed by Prof Rhythm Singh and Prof Pratham Arora from the Department of Hydro and Renewable Energy, IIT Roorkee.




J&K’s Accession Day with India celebrated with enthusiasm


J&K’s Accession Day with India celebrated with enthusiasm

The Accession Day of J&K with rest of India was on Monday celebrated with enthusiasm across Jammu and Kashmir and with the government for the first time announcing a holiday to mark the historical day. The J&K State Forces had on this day thwarted the attempt of Pakistani raiders to capture vital installations in Kashmir whereafter the Indian Army landed in Srinagar and protected the airport from falling in the hands of the enemy.

Political parties, including the BJP, Congress and Panthers Party, organized functions to mark the day. The BJP organized Tiranga March in the main cities of Jammu and Srinagar and also at district headquarters.

The march in Jammu was led by the UT BJP chief Ravinder Raina from Gandhi Nagar colony just near the office of the Peoples Democratic Front.

BJP activists organized celebrations for the first time in Srinagar where they danced and sang on the main streets. A Tiranga Yatra with party activists carrying the Indian National Flag through the city was also organized.

Today’s was the first Accession Day that was celebrated after J&K becoming a Union Territory (UT). The previous Kashmir-centric governments did not give any importance to the historical day as they have been projecting J&K a disputed territory by demanding permanent solution of the Kashmir problem.

It was on this day in 1947 when the then ruler Maharaja Hari Singh signed the Instrument of Accession joining Jammu and Kashmir with the dominion of India.

At least four BJP activists from Kupwara were taken into custody in the morning by the police for trying to hoist the Tricolour at the clock tower in Srinagar’s Lal Chowk.

The J&K Police organized an 8-km “Run for Unity” in the memory of police martyrs in south Kashmir’s Awantipura. As many as 184 boys and girls participated in the run.

Senior superintendent of police, Tahir Saleem, said that the event was organized to honour the police martyrs for their courage, valour and sacrifices for the unity and integrity of the country.

Vikramaditya Singh, who is the grandson of Maharaj Hari Singh, while extending good wishes on the day, tweeted; “On this day we also pay tributes to Brigadier Rajinder Singh, MVC, chief of military staff, J&K State Forces. He gave the ultimate sacrifice along with hundred soldiers defending the state from Pakistani raiders allowing time for the Indian Army to fly in on 27th October 1947.

 

Brigadier Rajinder Singh has thereafter come to be known as Saviour of Kashmir.




Understanding the plights of Dalits through the lens of Hathras and numbers


Understanding the plights of Dalits through the lens of Hathras and numbers

A look into numbers surrounding Dalit lives may help in understanding what actually took place in Hathras on September 14 and why it was followed by a line of barefaced and presumptuous events.

The gang-rape incident of a Dalit woman in Uttar Pradesh’s Hathras district had brought to many the chilling memory of the Nirbhaya case. However, more than the barbarity of the crime in Bhoolgarhi’s millet field on September 14, 2020, it was the impunity which followed from the UP administration’s end that shocked many beyond their belief.

After seeing her – allegedly gang-raped by four men belonging to the upper caste Thakur community – lay unconscious in the field, her family had immediately taken her to the local Chandpa Police Station.

Reportedly, the police not only refused to entertain the Dalit family’s claim but subjected them to severe humiliation before banishing then away. On the same day, the victim, 19, was taken to the Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital in Aligarh where she was found to have suffered a strangulated neck at the hands of her perpetrators.

According to the police, who registered a complaint on September 20, she had been strangled with her dupatta. The police recorded her first statement two days later on September 22 and arrested the four accused.

The woman succumbed to her injuries a week later on September 29. On October 1, the police rubbished her family’s claim and said that no rape had occurred, citing the “FSL (Forensic Science Laboratory) report didn’t find sperm”. This, despite videos from September 14 emerging where she could be seen naming the four accused and saying they did ‘zabardasti‘ with her.

In between, the UP administration’s high-handed approach in cremating her at the dead of the night on September 29 without her family’s consent had already created a public outrage throughout the country.

Starting with her incineration, each day witnessed one brazen event after another. However, what overtook everything was the panchayat meeting by the local upper-caste populace in support of the accused.

They not only denied the criminality of the four Thakur men but demanded a narco-analysis test of all the parties involved, including the victim’s family, to “reveal the truth about the incident”. And much to the surprise of many, the Yogi government ordered one as well.

While all these indemnities saw the national media drawing comparison of this incident to the Nirbhaya gangrape of 2012, many women’s and Dalit rights activist have not bought this generalisation.

According to them, and rightly so, Nirbhaya’s family was not subjected to the kind of humiliation that the 19-year-old Dalit’s family had been undergoing. Unlike the Delhi gang-rape case of December 2012, the incident in Hathras was not just one of the 87 rapes that occur every day in this country, many claimed.

What happened in Bhoolagarhi was also one among the 125 daily reported crimes against Dalits, and a look into numbers surrounding Dalit lives may help in understanding what took place on September 14 and why it was followed by a line of barefaced and presumptuous events.

A categorical reading of a few reports and surveys by academics, scholars and government committees reflects the systematic and institutional discrimination that a Dalit or an Adivasi in India endures right from her/his birth.

According to the findings of the fourth National Family Health Survey (NFHS- 4), conducted between 2015 and 2016, among children below the age of five years, one belonging to the SC/ST community stands at a higher risk of being underweight, stunted and thin. In normal terms, a lower caste child is more likely to be malnourished than his upper-caste or general caste counterpart.

The NFHS- 4 survey released in 2018 found that in the Scheduled Caste communities, 42.8 per cent of the children below the age of five are stunted. The number rises to 48.3 in the Scheduled Tribe communities. 38% of general caste children below five years are stunted.

In “Thin” and “Underweight” categories as well, the children of the SC/ST background stand at the bottom end of receiving the several development and welfare policies that have been introduced in the 73-year-old history of independent India.

The prevalence of Anaemia (lower levels of haemoglobin in the blood) is also higher in backward communities’ children as they are affected by it more than the national average of 58. The rate of anaemia among SC and ST children are 60.5 and 63.1. Among general category children, the number is 53.9.

One way to understand the increased malnutrition among lower caste children is to look into another study by the Medical Journal of The Armed Forces in 2011. It had stated that a child’s nutritional status was directly linked to the parents’ literacy rate. The higher the education among parents, the more food a child intakes.

As per the report, 35.8% of boys and 35.1% of girls who were found underweight had illiterate fathers, in comparison to 16.3% boys and 22.8% with fathers who had either college or high secondary school education.

According to the 2011 census data, the literacy rate among the upper caste Hindus is 73.27%, more than the national average of 72.98. Among the Scheduled Caste community, it is 66.07%.
Overcoming this barrier at the very primitive stage of their lives, the Dalit children coming into the primary education are faced with yet another fundamental crisis – the higher probability of being a school dropout.

A UNICEF report in 2011 found that 51% of Dalit children drop out of elementary schools. The number went up to a staggering 67% among Dalit girls. It stood at 37% among non-Dalit and non-Adivasi children.

In an attempt to figure out the prevailing cause of higher dropout rates among the lower caste children, the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ), in its Exclusion in Schools: A Study on Practice of Discrimination and Violence found: 

• SC children (especially girls) are forced to do menial jobs. They are forced to clean toilets and other school premises

• Bathrooms are not used by the students but the teachers make the SC children clean them

• Teachers make only the SC children to clean their utensils and many times they were asked to fetch water, tea etc

• SC children are subjected to caste abuse from the peer group and school staff

• Caste Hindu students don’t make friendship with the SC children

“Not only these, but the children are discriminated in terms of seating arrangements, in terms of giving food. They are asked to sit in a separate place to eat,” said Dr.V.A. Ramesh Nathan, General Secretary, NDMJ. “There are several other forms of discrimination that Dalit children face, including sexual abuse.”

The tendency could be traced in higher education as well. Ministry of Human Resource Development (MHRD) in 2019 showed that among the 2,461 dropouts from the IITs in the last two years, 1,171 (47.5%) were either from SC, ST or OBC background.

Of the 99 dropouts of Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs), 14 were from SC, 21 from ST category and 27 from OBC category, the HRD Ministry data highlighted.

While years of institutional ostracism has led them to live a life at the lowest end of the socio-economic spectrum, the higher dropout rate worsens the situation further.

Resorting to casual and informal works, thus, becomes one of the most looked-after options among the lower caste populace, resulting in a highly wobble livelihood as witnessed during the first month of the COVID-19 imposed lockdown in India.

According to figures provided by the National Sample Survey (NSS), 2011/12, 47.2% employed SC population are casual workers, while only 15.9% are regular salaried workers. In upper caste communities, 29.7% have regular-salaried jobs, with only 12.4% doing causal jobs.

Another major hindrance that affects the well-being of backward communities is judicial discrimination. While two of the three crimes committed against someone belonging to the backward caste is likely to get lost in the files of Indian judiciary, the paradigm shifts when a Dalit stands accused.

The conviction rates in offences under the SC/ST Atrocities Act was just 32%, as per the NCRB data, 2019. The number was above 50% for cases registered in general under the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“Reservation is there only up to district-level courts. But there is no such thing in higher judiciary. It’s very rare for a Dalit to become a High Court judge or a Supreme Court judge. They think Dalits don’t have that merit to occupy those positions,” said Dr. Ramesh Nathan of NDMJ, linking low the conviction rate in SC/ST Act directly to the lesser number of Dalit judges in the higher judiciary.

However, one may see a stark difference when the offender is from the backward communities. Almost two in every three (64%) inmates awaiting trials were either SC, ST or OBC.

“There were particular SC and ST communities who were treated as habitual offenders before 1947 under specific Acts. Even though such provisions are not there in independent India, the police mindset hasn’t changed much. They fabricate cases against Dalits and Adivasis to keep them inside [the prison],” Dr. Ramesh Nathan asserted.

“Many prisoners languish in prisons because the police do not finish the investigation and file the charge sheet in time. This is a very serious matter because such people remain in prisons without any clue of a police case against them,” NDMJ found in its Study on discrimination against Dalit and Adivasi Prisoners & Victims of Police Excesses.

“There are also issues of ‘unjustified or unnecessary’ arrests that police officials often resort to demonstrate the progress of investigation in counter cases fled by the dominant castes. Section 167 of Cr.P.C. lays down the maximum period within which the police investigation must be completed and a charge sheet filed before the court,” the study further revealed.

“Look at the contradiction here. If the non-Dalits commit a crime they can come out, whereas Dalit Adivasis are forced to spent years in prison,” said Dr. Ramesh Nathan.

It becomes worse when a Dalit woman is a casualty. Among all the crimes against them, the conviction rate in rape is abysmally low at less-than-2 per cent in comparison to the overall rate of 27.8%, as per the NCRB data, 2019. Thus, the Uttar Pradesh government’s state of exemption in the Hathras incident was not appalling but extending the trend.

Breaking the institutionalised shackles of caste-based discrimination at every stage of their life has been a taxing task for the SC, STs and OBCs. And it reflects in their socio-economic status in the society.

According to World Inequality Database’s Wealth Inequality, Class and Caste in India, 1961-2012, published in 2018, India’s upper caste households earn nearly 47% more than the national average annual household income.

Households belonging to the marginalised caste groups, on the other hand, earn less than the national annual income of Rs 1,13,222. While an SC family earns 21% less than the national average, the number is 34 and 8 for STs and OBCs respectively.

Yet, there are many who defy the systematic discrimination at every stage daily and continue on their quest to a dignified life.

However, that a dignified life did not guarantee an undiscriminating life was evident when Maroona Murmu, Associate Professor of History at Jadavpur University of Kolkata was racially attacked for an online post.

Alleging that they took the easy way of reservation, Dalits and Adivasis being shunned out of the highest strata of the society based on their caste is a common phenomenon.

Availing reservation, though, is not the easiest of the tasks as speculated by many in the upper-caste communities.

An RTI by activist Sabyasachi Mukherjee in July this year revealed that the reserved sections of categories ‘Group A’, ‘Group B’ and ‘Group C (excluding Safai Karmacharis)’ in government job sectors are never filled to their actual capacity.

While the Constitution of India directs 49% reservation in jobs, Group A currently has 32.3% employees belonging to either the SC, ST or OBC communities. The number stands at 39.7 in Group B and 48.6 in Group C (excluding Safai Karmacharis).

A sharp imbalance is noticed in the case of Group C (safai karmacharis). The representation of the SCs, STs, and OBCs here is a flabbergasting 66.5%. Thanks to the safai karmacharis, the backward communities’ overall representation in government jobs is 47.5%, Mukherjee’s RTI revealed.

“There is a reservation in the mind of upper-caste people. It cannot be countered with logic. There is a curfew in their mind and they just don’t want to understand. I have been trying to make rational arguments but they just don’t want to understand,” Professor Murmu said.

“As a scholar, I talk about caste violence that is there, the stigma, trauma and humiliation that people of the backward communities face. But everything in counter of them translates into the reservation. The moment one talks about caste, the upper caste people drag reservation,” she added.

Getting a doctorate from the prestigious Jawaharlal Nehru University and teaching at Jadavpur University should usually be regarded as a highly successful academic career.

However, despite achieving all of these, Professor Murmu’s experience of being subjected to racial discrimination and abuse has led her to trauma of a different kind, which she feels is experienced by many like her but understood by none with an upper-caste background.

“The sort of mental trauma that I’m going through at the moment, the sort of life that I’ve to lead at the moment, how do I make people understand about it? These are the wounds that we bear in our bodies and our minds,” she said.




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