Thursday, April 22, 2004

Mid day meal for drought hit states during vacations

RAKESH BHATNAGAR

NEW DELHI: Anguished at the poor response shown by the state governments and other authorities in providing free cooked mid day meal to the school children across the country, the Supreme Court has asked the drought hit states to feed the school children with nutritious meals even during the summer vacations.

Giving a stern warning to the authorities concern, the Court said its mid day meals scheme must be effectively implemented by September 1, 2004 , otherwise the chief secretaries would be held responsible for the lapse.

A Bench of Justices Y K Sabharwal and B N Agrawal also asked the Centre to double the quantum of food grains disbursed under the 'Sampoorna Gramin Rojgar Yojana' (SGRY). The Bench said preference should be given to people from Dalit and Backward communities for employment under the scheme.

Petitioner People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)'s counsel Colin Gonsalves and Aparna Bhat had highlighted the failure of various state government in implementing the mid-day meal scheme.

The court, which expanded the scope of the PIL to cover all the states, had been issuing directions to the state governments for better implementation of the scheme.

Mid-day meal scheme, fully sponsored by the Centre, is aimed at improving both literacy and nutritional standards of the children belonging to the economically weak segments of the society.

Source: April 22, 2004

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Dalit 'question'

DALIT KUDIGALIN MARUKKAPPATTA VARALARU — Tamizhaga Dalit Varalaru Arimugam: J. Mohan; Dhamma Publications, 42nd First Cross, Second Main Road, Tagore Nagar, Lawspet, Pondicherry-605008. Rs. 70.

THIS IS an important and significant book on the dilemma of Dalits. The author makes trenchant observations. With great perspicuity, he explores all aspects of the problems faced by the Dalits and raises every possible question that could be asked on this subject, in India today. He examines tersely the interpretation of the Dalits' situation given by Marxists and feminists. He painstakingly urges that Tamil society must guard itself against etymological corruptions, not affecting the moral fibre of the society.

The central focus of this well-researched book is that the concept of untouchability emerged in India after 500 A.D. Asoka's two inscriptions do not refer to untouchability and untouchables. Only if the true history of the Dalits be brought forth objectively can they gain all the rights guaranteed in the Indian Constitution. The author aims at highlighting the social struggle of the Dalits for their participation in the democratic process to get their due share in the political process and power.

The author has almost succeeded in bringing to light significant aspects of Dalits' history. Dalit historiography will resurrect and win over human history. The author convincingly elucidates that for the regeneration of the Dalits, Buddha Dhamma had contributed much.

Those who promote Dalit politics must not fall prey to the elimination of Ambedkarism. Dalits are not Hindus. Can Dalits come out of Hinduism? For this ticklish question, the author does not give any convincing answer. Perhaps, exclusive research is indispensable. What is the method for the Dalits to embrace Buddha and His Dhamma? Organisationally, this vital factor is not yet fully attempted.

This timely book will pave the way for further research on and for Dalits' liberation. Grammatical mistakes could have been avoided in an otherwise flowery Tamil language in the book.

THOMAS EDMUNDS

Source: The Hindu, April 20, 2004