Dalit and Adivasi students and activists arrested
NEW DELHI: In a shocking incident, more than 30 Dalit and Adivasi students and activists were arrested on March 12 from Shastri Bhavan when they demanded an audience with the Union Minister of Human Resource Development Smriti Irani over unfair budgetary allocations in education for Dalit and Adivasi students. At the time of the arrest, the delegation, including N. Paul Diwakar, well-known Dalit activist and general secretary of National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), were about to submit a memorandum to the minister asking for reallocation of funds. The activists were taken to the Parliament Street Police Station, where another Dalit activist Bina Pallical was forcefully taken inside.
Over 500 students from Delhi, Haryana, UP and Bihar had gathered at Jantar Mantar to protest against the anti-Dalit/Adivasi policies of the present BJP-led government at the Centre. A public meeting was followed by a march by over 30 delegates to the Ministry of Human Resource Development. The demonstration was organized by the Campaign of Adivasis and Dalits for Rights on Education (CADRE 2201). Various student groups, networks, and civil society organizations participated in the demonstration. Rajya Sabha Member Ramdas Athawale’s presence was a morale booster for the hundreds of Dalit and Adivasi students taking part in the protest.
The budgeted expenditure by the Modi government for the most marginalized sections – Dalits and Adivasis – has seen a colossal decline this year. “We strongly protest against this unilateral reduction in budgets for Dalits and Adivasis repeatedly,” said Diwakar, at the public meeting in Jantar Mantar.
–V. Ramesh Nathan
FP Club concerned about atrocities against women
BASTI (Uttar Pradesh): At a meeting held on 11 March, members of the FORWARD Press Club expressed concern over the growing atrocities against women. The meeting was convened to discuss the Government of India’s ban on the documentary, India’s Daughter, directed by British filmmaker Leslee Udwin. The speakers at the meeting said that the traditional, conservative mindset was at the root of violence against women. Saroj Gautam, Kailash Soni, Ramlal Sharan Verma, Dr R.C. Verma, Dayaram Bharati, Krishna Kumar Prajapati and Janaki Prasad Rai, among others, shared their views.
-Arya P. Arya
Campaign against superstition
RAIPUR: Well-known scientist Dr Narendra Nayak’s recent audio-video lecture on blind faith and miracles was much appreciated. He said that “blind faith” was not the correct term – in fact, it was an insult to the unsighted people. “What we call blind faith is believing something which we see with our eyes”, he said. He feels that “wrong belief” is a better term than “blind belief”. Dr Nayak said that today all centres of higher learning have become centres of blind faith and superstitions. The students of top institutes pay obeisance at temples, mosques, dargahs and gurudwaras hoping for divine help in clearing the exams. Why? The reason, he said, was that in our country children are not encouraged to ask questions. When the child asks his first question, he is reprimanded and humiliated, entirely eliminating any possibility of him asking questions in the future. Even when that child becomes a scientist, he is unable to free himself from the stranglehold of blind faith and hesitates in asking questions.
Bahujan students face scholarship cuts
BHOPAL: In Madhya Pradesh, the SC, ST and OBC students pursuing their studies with government aid are in trouble. They are not only facing delays in disbursement of scholarships but also a reduction in their amounts. Students of professional courses in government and private institutions were being paid scholarships at the rate of Rs 30,000 to Rs 1 lakh per year, depending on the tuition fees of the institution concerned. The Backward Classes Department, which awards these scholarships, has slashed the scholarship amount of OBC students, quoting a 2003 government order. Their scholarships have been capped at Rs 10,000. This government decision may mean that around 50,000 OBC students enrolled for professional courses and in higher educational institutions have to abandon their studies midway. On the other hand, there are irregularities galore in the distribution of scholarships. Some administrative officers, school authorities and bank officials are allegedly involved in siphoning off scholarship funds. Angered by the government’s decision, engineering students from Bhopal, Indore, Jabalpur and Gwalior met Antar Singh Arya, the minister for minorities’ welfare. The minister told the students that he had written to the commissioner of the department concerned and assured them that the problem would be resolved at the earliest.
Published in the April 2015 issue of the FORWARD Press magazine