• stumble
  • youtube
  • linkedin

Archives for : October2017

Remembering Smita Patil – Poem by Deepti Naval

by- Deepti Naval

Sharing a moment with Smita . . . at Band Stand on a monsoon day . . .

Always on the run
Chasing our dreams
We met each time –

At baggage claims
VIP lounges
Check- in counters

Stood a while together
Among gaping crowds
Spoke, unspoken words

Yearning to share
Yet afraid, afraid
Of ourselves

All around us
People cheering, leering
And we, like spectacles
Amidst all the madness

Trying to live a moment
Of truth
A glance, a touch
A feeling to hold on to
And move on…

The last time we sat together
Waiting for a flight
I remember I’d said,

‘There must be another way
Of living this life!’

For a long time
You remained silent


Without blinking
Without turning

‘There isn’t’

You are gone, and
I’m still running…

Still trying
To prove you wrong . . .


Related posts

Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd -A call to left-liberals

Their silence on questions of caste could make them complicit in oppression of Dalit-Bahujan

kancha ilaiah, kancha ilaiah attacked, kancha ilaiah book, kancha ilaiah hyderbad, vysya community, samajika smugglurlu komatollu, india news, indian express, indian express newsThe bench dismissed the Public Interest Litigation filed by the Arya-Vysya community to ban my book, Samajika Smuggerlu — Komatollu (a Telugu translation of a chapter of my book, Post-Hindu India

The 33-day long attack by the monopoly Bania capitalist class, in the name of the Arya Vysyas (not Dravida Vysyas) on my person, soul, brain and body days is a new chapter in the history of caste barbarism in India. From September 10 to October 13, when the three-judge bench of the Supreme Court delivered its verdict on my book, I underwent daily torture, faced death threats and was confronted with abuses. The bench dismissed the Public Interest Litigation filed by the Arya-Vysya community to ban my book, Samajika Smuggerlu — Komatollu (a Telugu translation of a chapter of my book, Post-Hindu India).

This verdict has given a new life to the freedom of expression in India at a time when intellectuals, writers and journalists in the country were living in an atmosphere of fear. The verdict encourages scholars from oppressed communities to conduct research on castes and communities without fear. It would be self-defeating for the left and liberal intellectuals if they do not debate caste at a time when the government led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP led by Amit Shah have put the caste agenda on the national stage. Eschewing such a debate would also render any discourse on politics, culture and economics, impossible. And that would be inimical for democracy.

The dilemma of left-liberal economists in the context of the attack and fatwa against me by the Telugu Desam Member of Parliament, T.G. Venkatesh — who is also a leader of the Arya Vysya community — shows how deeply ingrained caste culture is in people’s lives. The Bania caste dominates business in the country — some of the country’s top industrialists are from the community and so are village-level grocers.

The community dominates the grain, gold and other commodity markets in most parts of India. The BJP and the RSS are known to have links with the community. Its dominance also extends to politics in Delhi. The agitation agitation against me was organised from above. The silence of those who argue that their politics and struggles are directed at achieving class transformation, or a socialist revolution, could make them complicit in “class collaboration”.

This is especially since my discourse is closely intertwined with class-cultural economics and I have highlighted the casteist moorings of Indian business. If this dominance of the Banias is not challenged, the BJP will continue to win elections for decades. The top business houses shifted their support from the Congress to the BJP after the UPA-I mooted the idea of reservations in the private sector in 2006-2007. The lower castes that actually form the core of class politics have been exploited in caste-based cultural markets in systematic ways for long. When the left-liberals waver, the lower caste masses doubt their intentions.

According to an article, “Corporate Boards in India -Blocked by Caste?” by D. Ajith, Han Doker and Ravi Saxena in the Economic and Political Weekly (August 11, 2012, Vol. XLVII, No. 31, p.41)) 46 per cent of corporate board members in the country are Banias and 44.6 per cent are Brahmins This shows the absolute control of the two castes on the industrial and financial power in the country. There is need for serious studies to find out the ways in which the demonetisation has benefited top capitalists.

The Bania businessmen of today are not the same as those of Mahatma Gandhi’s time. Gandhi never had ambitions of ruling the country in a political sense. He was a moral reformist politician, whose agenda has been turned upside down by Modi. The BJP’s appropriation of Gandhi — in contrast to the earlier RSS — is to consolidate the Bania political, economic and social power.

The BJP projects the monopoly capital, the bureaucracy, the non-agrarian social forces as nationalist and the soldiers as markers of that nationalism. War tanks are being installed in campuses of educational institutions. Dubbing Dalit Bahujan students as anti-national is part of the party’s agenda. The footsoldiers who fight on the borders are from the Shudra (OBC), Dalit and Adivasi communities. Wars, whether against mighty China or the not-so-strong Pakistan, have to be fought physically by footsoldiers.

The parents and the kith and kin of such soldiers suffer enormous economic problems and joblessness. There are no jobs in the government sector. And all the so-called nationalist intellectuals are against reservations in the private sector and the so-called nationalist industry is happy with that position. The left and liberal economists have not taken a firm stand on reservations in the private sector.

Is it nationalism to deny a job to the footsoldier’s brother or sister in the private sector? When the entire economy is privatised, where do the SC/ST/OBCs, whom the BJP claims to love so much, get jobs? That too in an education market where there is a huge difference between private English-medium schools and regional language government schools? The government has stopped many foreign foundations that help the Indian poor.

These questions can be debated only when they are linked with “caste cultural economics”. It is time that the nation wakes up before the anti-poor upper caste nationalists destroy the nation itself.

A call to left-liberals

Related posts

In Yogi’s Gorakhpur, Police remain callously inactive even 12 days after my sister’s murder

Swati Pandey

This is to bring to your notice that my sister Jaya Pandey (39) was killed at her father’s (Shesh Nath Pandey) residence in gorakhpur on 4th of October 2017. The police did a Postmortem which said asphyxia was the main reason of the death. Family submitted a complaint which stated that Rakesh tripathi and Shesh nath Pandey might be behind this murder.

Mother (Dr. Sandhya Pandey R/O Sahjanwa, Gorakhpur) told the police that Shesh Nath Pandey is involved in some kinds of illegal activities and he might be using Jaya for the same. Rakesh and Mr. Pandey made Jaya addicted to drugs.

Mr. Pandey gave in writing to the police two months back that he won’t call Jaya to his residence yet he called her on 3rd of October. Jaya had a son Sajal (13) and she and his son lived with Jayas’ mother, Dr Sandhya Pandey

Jaya was found dead in a tank in the morning of 4th october in a paid toilet complex which is owned by Mr. Pandey. The tank was not more than 4.5 ft deep and 1.5 fr broad.

Despite of a complaint given by the family on 6th October the FIR which was registered on 8th October was registered against unknown people 13 days have passed since Jaya’s death but police has not taken any strong step accept the statements of the family, Mr. Pandey and Rakesh Tripathi.


Related posts

BJP richest party with Rs 894 cr, Congress second with Rs 759 cr: ADR report

In terms of the capital or reserve fund, the amount set aside by parties after subtracting liabilities from assets for party expenditure, the BJP scored the highest with Rs 869 crore in 2015-16.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the BJP national president Amit Shah at the party's Parliamentary Board meeting in June 2017.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi with the BJP national president Amit Shah at the party’s Parliamentary Board meeting in June 2017.(PTI)

The ruling BJP is the richest among India’s seven national parties, having declared assets worth nearly Rs 894 crore in 2015-16, said a report released by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) on Monday.

The document collated by the advocacy group went on to term the Congress, which declared assets to the tune of Rs 759 crore in the same period, as a close second on the list. While the BJP was found to have declared liabilities of around Rs 25 crore during that time, the figure for the Congress stood at Rs 329 crore.

The report was based on the declaration of assets and liabilities by national parties from 2004-05 to 2015-16. While assets include moveable and immovable properties, cash, vehicles, investments, deposits, loans and advances, liabilities comprise factors like borrowings from banks, unsecured loans and access to overdraft facilities.

In the 11-year period that came under ADR scrutiny, the Congress possessed more assets than the BJP until 2014-15 – the year of the great saffron triumph. The BJP did better than the grand old party the next year too.

In terms of the capital or reserve fund, the amount set aside by parties after subtracting liabilities from assets for party expenditure, the BJP scored the highest with Rs 869 crore in 2015-16. This was followed by Rs 557 crore of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rs 432 crore of the Communist Party of India (Marxist).

The reserve fund of the BJP increased by 700% through the 11-year period, as opposed to 169% of the Congress. The highest percentage increase in this respect was seen by the Trinamool Congress (13,447%) and the BSP (1,194%), the report said.

The average total assets declared by the seven national parties stood at Rs 61.62 crore in 2004-05, and rose to as much as Rs 388.45 crore by 2015-16. The value of the BJP’s assets, amounting to Rs 123 crore in 2004-05, increased by around 627.15% in 11 years. The Congress’ assets grew by 353.41% during this period.

The BJP said the rise in income and declared assets is a reflection of its ongoing campaign to usher transparency in funding. “Donations are being received in cheques, and we are building offices in each district and raising corpus that will provide interest for meeting party expenditure. All tax returns are duly filed, and we have decided to operate a single centralised bank account to ensure transparency in donations,” said BJP spokesman Gopal Agarwal.

The loss in the last general elections did not seem to have greatly affected the Congress in terms of fixed assets, which witnessed only a marginal dip of Rs 65 crore – from 767 crore in 2013-14 to 702 crore in 2014-15 — but went up to Rs 758.79 crore the next financial year.

A Congress functionary said on the condition of anonymity that the party’s collections come largely from concerted membership drives executed across the country, besides investing in safe instruments.

The BJP’s total assets went up from Rs 464 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 781 crore the next year, followed by Rs 894 crore in 2015-16. Without much liability, the BJP’s reserve fund also witnessed an almost corresponding increase — from Rs 437 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 869 crore in 2015-16.

Related posts

“I will continue writing, nobody can stop me from doing that”,Prof. Kancha Ilaiah

by Varun Chirumamilla 

Kancha Ilaiah

Professor Kancha Ilaiah has never been one to mince words. But when he termed Banias as “social smugglers”, he started receiving death threats and abusive phone calls.

His book Samajika Smugglurlu Komatollu drew flak from sections of society, leading to the filing of a petition calling for its ban. However, the Supreme Court would dismiss the petition while upholding his freedom of speech and expression.

Bar & Bench caught up with Ilaiah to discuss his writings, criminal proceedings pending against him, and more.

You don many hats. You are a Professor, an author, a Dalit rights activist and more. Can you describe the evolution of Kancha Ilaiah, the personality?

The evolution has been gradual. I was born into a poor family of shepherds, and started off attending the local primary school in my village, where, for some time, I was the only student. Thereafter, I studied in a village of landlords, where I witnessed atrocious behavior.

I went on to complete my higher secondary education in Narsampet Taluk, and ultimately received an PhD from Osmania University. In the process, I started fighting against oppression and became associated with the radical Left in my student days.

My shift towards caste began in 1985, after the Karamchedu massacre, where Dalits were murdered by the Shudra upper castes. Then came the Mandal commission, and the opposition of the upper castes to reservation. It was during the fight to secure reservation that I started conceptualising and finally wrote Why I am not a Hindu.

It was around the same time that I became involved in Civil Rights and Human Rights movements, and observed the absolutely wretched conditions people were living in. It was then that I realised that it wasn’t just general poverty, but caste that had a big role to play in the larger scheme of things.

My intellectual journey took a turn after the publication of Why I am not a Hindu. I was invited to write for publications such as the Hindu, Economic and Political Weekly, Asian Age and also appeared in television debates.

I focused on issues such as Brahminism, the symbols of both the Brahmins and Dailtbahujans and the conflict between them. I then went on to write books such as Buffalo Nationalism. All of this brought me a certain degree of recognition.

A recent book published in English in which you refer to the Bania community as “social smugglers” has led to your receiving death threats. Police complaints were also lodged against you. Would you do things differently had you known that such consequences would arise?

I was warned by a close friend even before the book was published that there would be grave consequences, and he asked me to remove his name from the acknowledgements. I have also removed the names of several other people, including those of my family members.

Yes, I knew there would be consequences, but my endeavor is and always has been to better understand the socio-dynamics of caste among other things. It was only after meticulous research that I wrote what I did, in the manner in which I did. Whatever the consequences are, facts remain facts.

Freedom of expression comes with reasonable restrictions. Do you think your work comes within the framework of the Constitution?

My publishers, Sage and I had a long series of meetings and negotiations regarding the book, from which this excerpt with reference to the Banias has been published. It was only after a long consultation process with lawyers that the book was cleared for publishing.

I was assured that no legal cause of action could arise from publishing it. I was also told that some Brahmin editors refused to work on the book, and some even resigned. But the publishing house stood their ground and appointed new people. That’s how the book came to be edited.

As far as the question of disrupting communal harmony goes, the book, which is based on fact and research, merely distinguishes between productive and unproductive castes. Even in my previous works and lectures I have said that if the Brahmins, Banias and Jains were to form their own country, it would not survive, as they are unproductive. Their survival is dependent on the exploitation of the productive castes

Is it fair to paint a whole community with the same brush?

It is impossible to theorise without some degree of generalisation. There are certain common characteristics which are widespread through the community. Why do you call all Madigas (a scheduled caste) Madigas when some of them may not have the physical or social characteristics associated with the caste? I agree that a caste is made up of individuals, but like I said before, some degree of generalisation is inevitable in an academic pursuit.

The Constitution has afforded the Dalit community several privileges and safeguards. There is also the Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes Act. None of these have worked, according to you. Where does the solution lie?

These measures are like having a constable on duty at your door. He may prevent people from the outside from coming into your house and harming you, but if you step out of the house then he cannot guarantee your safety.

The solution lies in empowering the youth from these communities with English education, which will allow them to hold their own with those coming from more privileged backgrounds even at the highest levels of government and industry.

If they continue to be discriminated against despite this, at least they will have the opportunity to emigrate and become global citizens.

Do you think the impact of the Act has been diluted due to alleged widespread misuse?

The Act has been misused in certain instances. Implementation has also been a problem. In any case, seeing your enemy in prison is not the solution. The constable outside your door parallel I drew earlier applies to this Act as well.

The Telangana and Andhra Pradesh High Court has directed Police in the Prakasam District to furnish information on why criminal cases have not been lodged against you, despite complaints being filed. Are you considering filing an anticipatory bail application?

They have asked for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe and also filed criminal complaints. I am meeting with my lawyer later today to discuss my legal strategy. We will file an anticipatory bail application if required. In any case, the Court must serve me notice before taking any action.

Do you fear for your life? Should the government be doing more to protect you?

An attack on me was pre-emptively thwarted by the police last night. I am meeting with the Commissioner of Police today to seek protection. If they give me this protection, I can continue with my speaking engagements and attend social gatherings. If they don’t, I will continue writing. Nobody can stop me from doing that.


Bar & Bench would like to thank Jangili Darshan, a research scholar at Osmania University, for his assistance in arranging this interview.

Image courtesy: Jangili Darshan

Related posts

Padmavati: Jai Rajputana Sangh threatens to burn cinema halls #WTFnews

Jai Rajputana Sangh wants to watch the film before it releases across the country to check whether or not history has been distorted.

Padmavati: Jai Rajputana Sangh threatens to burn cinema halls if film is not shown to members before release

Mumbai: Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmavati has been in news since its inception. The sets of the film were vandalised on a couple of occasions and the filmmaker was assaulted by a group called Rajput Karni Sena a few months back. And now, Jai Rajputana Sangh has demanded a screening of the film based on Rani Padmini, ahead of its release in December.

According to a report in, Jai Rajputana Sangh wants to watch the film before it releases across the country to check whether or not history has been distorted.

“We won’t tolerate any distortion of history and if any romantic relationship is shown between queen Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji, we will burn cinema halls screening the film. Our members are trained in handling a large array of weapons ranging from swords to AK 47 guns. We won’t let anyone dishonour Padmavati and insult the people of Rajasthan,” report quoted Bhanwar Singh Reta, founder, Jai Rajputana Sangh as saying.

“Our demand is that the filmmakers screen it to a panel of representatives from various Rajput organizations. We will only give them a go-ahead to release the film after we are satisfied that no scene insults queen Padmavati,” Reta added.

The trailer of the magnum opus was unveiled last week. Starring Deepika Padukone as Rani Padmini, Shahid Kapoor as Maharawal Ratan Singh and Ranveer Singh as Sultan Allauddin Khilji, Padmavati is slated to hit the silverscreen on December 1.

The film also stars Aditi Rao Hydari, Jim Sarbh and Raza Murad in pivotal roles.

‘Padmavati’ is undoubtedly one of the most awaited films of the year. The film piqued fans’ curiosity ever since its inception ad the announcement of the star cast. After the launch of the trailer, the excitement has only doubled so much so that, it is now among the highest viewed trailers on YouTube, just in one day.

While everyone was blown away by Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh’s avatar, many of you might have noticed that Aditi Rao Hydari, who plays Ranveer’s wife in the film, wasn’t a part of the trailer. On being asked about the same, the actress revealed to a daily that she was shooting her part till two days before the trailer launch.

The actress also admitted that she is very happy to be a part of such a film and to feature opposite “great actors and talent”. And much like the rest of us, Aditi said that she is looking forward to watching the film.

Directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, ‘Padmavati’ is slated to release on December 1, 2017.The controversies surrounding Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmavati’ just does not seem to end. With only a month from its release, another Rajput group has threatened violent action against the film.

According to reports, a group called Jai Rajputana Sangh threatened to burn cinema halls if there is any romantic relationship shown between Rani Padmini and Sultan Alauddin Khilji. They also threatened violence if the queen or Rajasthani people are insulted in any way. The filmmaker had already clarified that there would no such sequence in the film. However, that has not deterred the Sena from causing problems for the film’s release.

Meanwhile, their demand is that the film should be shown to them before and after their approval only if it should be allowed to release. It remains to be seen how the situation pans out for the Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh film when it hits theatres on December 1.


Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s ‘Padmavati’ has been facing many issues since it started rolling. Many controversies came up one after another surrounding the film. Fringe political outfits like the Rajput Karni Sena has continued with its tirade against the film and has declared that they will boycott the release of the film.

However, recently, Information and Broadcasting minister, Smriti Irani said that the film will face no trouble during its release. While replying to Karan Johar’s comment about ‘political pressure’ on the film, at an event, she assured that the state government will ensure the law and order and will not allow any miscreants to disrupt any kind of interaction or display. She said, “I am sure law and order will be under control. The State government will ensure no miscreants disrupt any kind of interaction or display. I don’t envisage any problem. If there is any challenge, the State government will meet it.”

She added that miscreants without cover create such controversies and if the filmmaker communicates it properly then it is taken care of. She also said that to say something will happen is kind of “localised fear” these days.

Starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, ‘Padmavati’ is all set to hit the theatres on December 1, 2017.


Related posts

Farmer Organizations oppose Central government’s attempt to replace PDS with Cash Transfers

 Demand protection of Right to Food and Procurement of Crops

On the occasion of World Food Day, a Roundtable meeting titled “Protect Right to Food – Strengthen PDS and MSP” was organized at Sundarayya Kendram by All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) and the farmer organizations who are part of it. This was organized in the light of the Central government notification to all states that they should begin replacing the Public Distribution System with DBT scheme to give cash instead of rations. All the participants strongly opposed the concerted actions by the Central government to dismantle PDS and phase away the Minimum Support System and procurement of crops.


The farmer organizations demanded that the government should immediately stop the moves to replace PDS with Cash Transfers. Instead they should give enhanced Minimum Support Price to farmers and expand the procurement to include millets, pulses and oilseeds. AIKSCC stated that the Govt. of India buys more than 65 million tonnes of food grain from peasants at a Minimum Support Price and distributes the same in rations. With DBT govt. will stop procuring, it will end MSP pricing, it will wind up FCI godowns as per Shanta Kumar Committee recommendations.


The farmer organizations demanded the protection of Right to Food for the poor and underprivileged, with continuation of PDS system with good quality rice as well as pulses, sugar, cooking oil and salt to each family every month to secure food and well-being. In the name of circumventing corruption, the govt proposes NO FOOD, ONLY CASH, i.e. DBT or Direct Benefit Transfer. All cash schemes too are riddled with corruption which has continued to rise with the NDA regime since 2014. Food is a basic and universal right. More than 19 crore people of India sleep hungry every day. More than 48% children below 5 years of age in India are malnourished and stunted. Among the 79 countries listed to have severe malnutrition, India ranks 65thbelow Nepal and Bangladesh.


Leaders of 11 organizations participated in the roundtable including Telangana Rythu Sangham, All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha, Telangana Rythu JAC, Rythu Swarajya Vedika, Telangana Rythanga Samiti, Telangana Vyavasaya Karmika Sangham, A.P. Vyavasaya Vruttidarula Union, Human Rights Forum, National Alliance of People’s Movements, Telangana Raitanga Samakhya, and Telangana Rythu Sankshema Samiti. The main speakers included included Ravi Kanneganti, Justice Chandrakumar, Vemulapalli Venkatramayya, Dr.A.Prasad Rao, T.Sagar, Kirankumar Vissa, Bonthala Chandra Reddy, Sambayya and Dharmapal.


In light of the upcoming WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires in December 2017, the farmer organizations also alleged that the WTO is pressurizing the government to wind up food subsidy. It is already stopping cooking gas subsidy and kerosene oil subsidy. It has already reduced fertilizer subsidy. AIKSCC demands that Indian Government should take a strong stand and not sacrifice food security, sovereignty and farmers’ interests to protect corporate trade interests with developed countries.


All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) consists of about 200 farmers’ organizations from across the country including all the major national level organizations. AIKSCC is organizing nation-wide Kisan Mukti Yatra which has already completed 14 states in the first 3 phases (Western India, South India and North India). Three more phases of the Yatra are planned, and the culmination will be in a historic national farmers’ rally and Kisan Sansad at Delhi from November 20th.


Contact: Kirankumar Vissa  (Rythu Swarajya Vedika): 9701705743; T.Sagar (Telangana Rythu Sangham): 9490098055; V.Venkatramayya (All India Kisan Mazdoor Sabha): 8639873720; Ravi Kanneganti (Telangana Rythu JAC):9912928422;

Related posts

Jharkhand girl starving to death shows ‘ #Aadhaar savings’ built on gross exclusions

The poor and vulnerable are dismissed as ‘ghosts’ and ‘frauds’ while authentication errors lead to many going hungry.

India has not only slipped three points on the global hunger index, falling behind North Korea and Iraq, it has also started witnessing children being starved to death because their ration cards were not “linked to Aadhaar”. A report by the portal claims that an 11-year-old girl in Jharkhand went without food and died eventually because her family didn’t have Aadhaar-linked ration cards and they were denied food items by the Aadhaar-driven PDS.

This, despite PM Modi and his retinue of ministers and supporters going on and on about “Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao”.

That this denying of food and ration because the cards weren’t connected to Aadhaar is a gross violation of the Right to Life, Food Security Act and Aadhaar’s own “voluntary” nature by law, and the Supreme Court guidelines on the PDS-UID link, goes without saying. However, what’s even more tragic is that this could be foreseen by civil rights activists and commentators, reporting on the “Aadhaar exclusions” months in advance.

Santoshi Kumari, the 11-year-old girl who died of starvation, had gone without food for nearly eight days when she succumbed to it. Her family’s ration card was cancelled because it wasn’t linked to their Aadhaar number, while mid-day meals at her school weren’t available because of Durga Puja holidays, says the report. As a result, Santoshi Kumari hadn’t had a morsel of food for over a week, even though her family was eligible to avail food rations as per the Food Security Act, but was denied rations for six months because their card wasn’t Aadhaar-linked.

As the Centre is hell bent in linking Aadhaar to almost every service, public and private, in India, the gross violations of fundamental rights, and the resultant exclusions have been documented meticulously. In states like Jharkhand and Rajasthan, the poor have been left out of the Aadhaar-driven PDS because of “authentication failures”. Civil rights activists Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey have repeatedly drawn our attention to the hard facts on the ground – how the poor and the vulnerable are denied rations, work, services, skills training, even pregnancy care because they lack Aadhaar.

aadhaar-pds_101617020358.jpgPhoto: Press Trust of India

The policy framers riding Aadhaar mania treat the poor and marginalised as just 12-digit numbers of the UIDAI, and are least concerned when reports of unpardonable exclusions come forward. As the Jharkhand starvation death demonstrates, “deleting” those without Aadhaar from PDS lists is exactly how exclusions are presided over, with no concern towards the elderly, the infirm, those unwilling to get Aadhaar because of its several deficiencies. This, despite the individuals/families having ration cards/other identity proofs.

Welfare economist Jean Dreze has also been quoted in a number of reports on how “Point of sales” (PoS) machines installed at distribution outs are not able to authenticate the fingerprints of many, especially those daily wagers doing hard physical work and have calloused hands as a result. A large number of National Food Security Act (NFSA) beneficiaries are therefore left out of the welfare network, particularly in Jharkhand’s Ranchi district, because of Aadhaar. Dreze notes that the errors leading to exclusions occur at multiple points – the PoS machine, network connectivity, biometrics, remote servers, or mobile networks.

Not just in states like Jharkhand, even in Delhi Aadhaar-based PDS has seen a rise in exclusions. Though the claims are often of cracking down hard on corruption as well as efficiency, the ground reality is one of huge disruptions in lives of poor and the vulnerable who are cut off mercilessly from availing the benefits they are legally entitled to.

In fact, the government was criticised heavily when it decided to link essential welfare services/PDS/mid-day meals to Aadhaar, and letting children go hungry if they didn’t have UID. A DailyO columnist had written then: “In a country which has the highest number of malnourished children in the world, denying hungry kids the most important (and often the only) meal of the day because they do not have a particular identity card is not only shameful, it’s inhumane, and a recipe for humanitarian disaster.”

“Instead of prioritising children’s health, ensuring that they get nutrition benefits, improving the quality of the meals and implementing safeguards and rules for high quality food, the government is hell bent on taking away the meagre morsel that the children could get under the mid-day meal scheme as part of free schooling under Right to Education,” the article said.

uidai_101617020423.jpgPhoto: Reuters

The lack of empathy pointed out is at the heart of the Jharkhand starvation death of the 11-year-old Santoshi Kumari. However, those at the helm of Aadhaar, particularly Nandan Nilekani, have been boasting about “Aadhaar savings”, claiming about 9 billion US dollars have been “saved” because Aadhaar eliminated “frauds” and “ghosts” in the system.

In fact, a number of think-pieces and analytical reports have dissected the claims made by UIDAI, as well as the World Bank, which has been praising Aadhaar as an “efficient” welfare delivery programme, overlooking the gross negligence, the privacy breaches, the unpardonable exclusions as well as the Aadhaar frauds and commercial exploitation of Aadhaar-related data that have been amply reported by various media outlets.

Despite SC’s orders to the contrary, the Aadhaar juggernaut is on a rampage, trampling India’s poor, marginalised, elderly, the infirm and now the children. How will the UIDAI, which doesn’t even allow individuals and victims of Aadhaar to lodge complaints against it, or the government of Narendra Modi that’s imposing the Aadhaar condition on citizens’ right to life, liberty, food, education, privacy and other fundamental rights, defend itself against this unpardonable crime – starving a girl child to death?

Related posts

India – At Jaisalmer shelter, no food for Muslims forced out of village


Jaisalmer municipal commissioner says they don’t have budget to provide food to displaced families.

The Muslim families cook their own food after district administration failed to supply food.
The Muslim families cook their own food after district administration failed to supply food.(HT Photo)

Forced to leave their village in western Rajasthan following alleged threats from upper caste Hindu villagers, about 20 Muslim families are now staring at another crisis.

The district administration, which arranged a temporary shelter for them in Jaisalmer, has failed to provide them food for last two days. Lack of facilities at the shelter has left them, especially women and children, in the lurch.

Around 150 members of these 20 families do not want to return to their homes in Dantal, around 700 kms from Jaipur. They have urged the district administration to shift them to another safer location.

The families left their village following a string of events that began with the killing of a Muslim folk singer, allegedly by a Hindu priest and his brothers. The priest, Ramesh Suthar, who is a traditional occultist, has been arrested on charges of while his brothers are absconding.

Suthar is accused of killing 45-year-old Aamad Khan for his “poor singing” during a Navratri function at the village temple on September 27. Khan’s body was found outside his house the next day. The Rajputs allegedly threatened Khan’s family against going to police to report the killing. Khan’s family quietly buried the body.

However, after their relatives from nearby village came and assured them of help, Khan’s family lodged a case against Suthar and his two brothers.

Meanwhile, 20 families of Muslim folk singers, including Khan’s, left the village following alleged threat from the Rajputs and took shelter at nearby Balad village.

On Monday, some of them met Jaisalmer district collector (DC) KC Meena, who assured them of help and put them up in a temporary shelter run by the municipal council for the homeless people. The DC asked the civic body to arrange food for them.

“We are managing food for us through our local resources. The administration has made no arrangement,” said Tareef Khan. “However, we cannot mop up resources for long,” he said.

Jaisalmer municipal council commissioner Jabar Singh said they didn’t have budget for providing food to the displaced families. “We gave them food on Monday but we cannot give them food everyday due to lack of funds,” he added.

Meena wasn’t aware about the condition of the families at the shelter. He said he will need to check if the families have returned to the village or not.

The district collector also sent a sub-divisional officer to Dantal to ease the tension in the village so that the Muslims could return home. “We are talking to both sides and have assured the Muslims of their safety on their return to Dantal,” the DC said.


Related posts

Twitter campaign #MeToo: Breaking the culture of silence? #Vaw

by- Debjanee Ganguly


The social media is flooding with metoo (me too) hashtags. Sexual assault survivors are using this hashtag to call out on the cancer-like spread of sexual crime in our society. This is a consequence of the disclosure of Hollywood’s larger than life (nay, God?) figure Harvey Weinstein’s sexual predatoriness . More and more actresses have publicly stated their harassment at the hands of Weinstien. There was call for all women to tweet if they have faced sexual harassment, with the hashtag me too. The response has been overwhelming to say the least.

Social media is a tiny cross section of the people that face these crimes every day. This voicing of harassment is breaking the internet. Can you imagine how deep the rot is in reality? But this did not happen overnight.

Between victims of sexual assault, and the vile assaulter, lies a dense fog of the silent witnesses of assault that block out these accounts of harassment from daylight almost completely. The crucial channel of communication of one’s terrifying experience gets cut off by those who laugh it off or tell the person to take it in their stride or just pretend they saw/heard nothing. There are multiple cases where men and women think it is more important to keep up the bro-code rather than do the right thing. This bro-code is possibly more shattering than the assault itself. Or an assault within the family circle is hushed up for sake of honour of the family. Sometimes assaults are silenced because witnesses find it easier to carry on as if nothing happened, specially if it involves powerful god-men/women or politicians. It is these ‘reasons’ that make for the prevalent culture of rape and everyday sexism. It is this deafening silence that needs to be broken if we are serious about challenging patriarchy.

Silence acts like the catalyst. The silence of the survivor is not because they wish it away. Silence is imposed on them through fear and the normalization of such instances. Their silence is because they did not have enough support around them to be heard.

The silence of the witnesses actually perpetuates patriarchy. Their complicit-ness is in their silence. Their silence has echoes of abuses they have been passively responsible for by not speaking up. It is this silence that needs shattering.

If we are done with putting the burden of doing something about the rot onto the ‘victims’, we may move on to this lot of passive enablers of abuse. Not being an abuser, it is easy to support this vocal group of survivors who speak up in #metoo. But ask yourself, are you a passive enabler or have you ever been one? Own up to it. Your silence has as much a role to play in the turning of the wheel sexual abuse for over centuries. If the juggernaut has to stop in its tracks, the spade has to be called a spade. For a starter maybe one can begin with an ikeptshut hashtag. #ikeptshut. Let’s see how well that trends. It probably won’t. It is easier to ask the assaulter to stop dead on its tracks (on the internet in a generalized hashtag maybe). An empty threat. Responsibility for the prevalent sexist culture must lie even with those who choose to look away.

But hey, I did not do anything to own up.

In this terribly powerful and patriarchal world, keeping silent also is a privilege and you become a passive enabler of crime. Owning up to this privilege is the least one can do. By owning up we may begin unpacking the casual sexism around us, rape culture in religious gatherings, the idea of honour or izzat that is so very important to Indian families especially and question bro-codes of sexist conduct. Breaking the silence of mute spectators is imperative to break the chain of patriarchy that enables Harvey Weinsteins and Ram Rahims to flourish.

Debjanee is a research scholar at the Centre for Political Studies in JNU.


Related posts