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Sun11192017

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Letter to death penalty lovers on Facebook

The death penalty for some of those who raped and killed Jyoti Singh Pandey may bring a sense of satisfaction to some. But let’s not fool ourselves by calling it justice. It’s more like revenge, says Debolina Dutta

Rape Death penalty

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Patriarchal underpinnings of caste violence

By Subhash Gatade

Dalits are not allowed inside temples in 12 districts of Tamil Nadu, and 460 tea shops in Madurai still follow the two-tumbler system for dalits and non-dalits. Why is this state, with its 100-year-old anti-caste movement, a shadow of its former self, asks Subhash Gatade in this comment sparked by the recent death of Ilavarasan

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Triple oppression of dalit women panchayat members

By Subhash Gatade

Affirmative action might get dalit women into panchayats, but caste compounds the gender discrimination they face and stymies real empowerment, says Subhash Gatade 20 years after panchayati raj in India

Women in panchayats

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Impunity under AFSPA

The impunity under AFSPA of law-enforcement personnel guilty of sexual offences against women is most pronounced in the Northeast, writes KS Subramanian

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958

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Schools of discrimination

By Subhash Gatade

The removal of a dalit cook from the anganwadi in Majure village, Karnataka, indicates that top-down measures to address caste discrimination are changing little on the ground

Midday meal scheme

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The ashes of Dharmapuri

The dalits whose homes were attacked by dominant castes in Dharmapuri district on November 7 would do well to invoke the special provisions of the Prevention of Atrocities Act in pursuing justice, as the dalits of Tsundur, Andhra Pradesh, did over a 20-year struggle, writes Subhash Gatade

VIOLENCE AGAINST DALITS

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Crime and punishment

A nation consumed by outrage and a sense of retribution easily confuses punishment and revenge, justice and vendetta, says the PUCL in a statement following the hanging of Ajmal Kasab and asking for a rethink on the death penalty

Ajmal Kasab  death penalty

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Can we afford to be culturally blind?

By Shilpa Kameswaran

India's state and market institutions promote only a passive respect for religious and cultural co-existence. Ethnic sensitisation stops at caste-based affirmative action. What are the perils of the absence of institutional diversity-education in a country as heterogeneous as India?

promoting cultural diversity

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Assam violence: Land, identity and immigration

The conflicts in and around the Northeast have little to do with religion and everything to do with land and identity, writes Walter Fernandes, detailing the history of immigration to the Northeast

Northeas Immigrants

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Dronacharyas all: Caste discrimination in higher education

By Subhash Gatade

A committee has recommended legal action under the SC/ST Atrocities Act against faculty of the Vardhman Medical College for caste-based harassment of 35 students. This is only the latest in a long list of similar cases in India’s institutions of higher education. Subhash Gatade provides the details

Caste discrimination

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The shaky foundations of dalit capitalism

Is economic prosperity the road to dalit emancipation? Or will it just serve to co-opt dalits into the system, asks Subhash Gatade

Milind Kamble, Chairman, Dalit Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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Jharkhand: The failed promise of an adivasi state

By Richard Toppo

A tribal perspective from Jharkhand describes how the creation of the state, ostensibly for the welfare of tribal populations, has only led to their exploitation and displacement

Displacement of tribals

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Questionable inclusion?

Recent data reveals that around 40% of the positions of ‘sweeper’ in the central government are now filled by non-dalits. Does this suggest a more progressive society, or simply one where the post of government sweeper is acceptable for the security it offers, but the work continues to be done by the socially-excluded, asks Alok Srivastava

Poverty and Social Exclusion in India

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Manufacturing offence: The cartoon controversy

Ambedkar knew that the best way to eliminate caste is education that encourages critical thought. Seen from this perspective, manufacturing offence in order to attack the 2006 NCERT textbooks is undoubtedly a betrayal of his legacy, writes Rohini Hensman

Ambedkar

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Truth and reconciliation in Kashmir

Burhan Majid points out why a truth and reconciliation commission is appropriate for Gujarat 10 years after the Godhra riots but makes absolutely no sense in Jammu & Kashmir

Kashmir conflict

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Persistent exclusion of Muslims in India

India’s Human Development Report 2011 cites only a minuscule improvement in the socio-economic status of Muslims in India compared with other excluded groups. Ayesha Pervez explores the government’s response to this situation and explains why the extreme deprivation and exclusion of Muslims continues despite these measures

Poverty of Muslims

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The language that fosters social change

Caste bias and prejudice runs deep in India. But when court judgments display such conscious or unconscious biases they confer legitimacy on an institution we are trying to uproot, says Rakesh Shukla

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Flaws in the Communal Violence Bill

A law that differentiates between Hindu and Muslim victims and proposes separate courts to try Hindu and Muslim accused only legitimises communal resentment and polarisation, writes Jyoti Punwani in this analysis of the Communal Violence Bill

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In times of war and extremism: State praxis and the Constitution

The Supreme Court judgment condemning Chhattisgarh state’s use of the Salwa Judum to counter the Maoist menace is not infringing on the security responsibilities of the executive or legislature, but safeguarding constitutional values and fundamental rights such as equality and right to life, says Rakesh Shukla

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From Empire to Monsanto: Challenges of seeking the truth

Using the MNC Monsanto as a metaphor for concentration of money power and political influence, Rajni Bakshi asks: How should we tackle the enormous distortions of power that are as much a reality in our times as the British Empire was in Gandhiji’s time? Can we speak truth to power today in the dialogic and persuasive manner that Gandhiji did?

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Grey areas in the right to live - and die

The argument of possible misuse cannot be grounds to oppose the legalization of euthanasia, says Rakesh Shukla in this comment on the Aruna Shanbaug judgment. If misuse were grounds to do away with laws, the first to go would be the power of the police to arrest. After all, the National Police Commission itself admits that two-thirds of detentions in the country are unjustified

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Why temperance will not work with the AFSPA

There are only two ways to proceed with the controversial Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, says Supreme Court lawyer Rakesh Shukla: retain it or scrap it. Tempering it with pleas to refrain from ‘excessive use of force’ etc will simply not work with an army trained to inflict maximum damage

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Beyond the Khushboo case

The Supreme Court judgment quashing all criminal cases of obscenity against Khushboo is a welcome blow against hypocritical morality masquerading as virtue. But it isn’t enough. We need to debate the merits of criminalising sexually explicit material as obscene, in sharp contrast to publications, films and material that promote sexism and violence, writes Rakesh Shukla

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Re-examining the Communal Violence Bill

The draft law on communal violence fails on many counts, says Sonal Makhija. In the first place, it vests the power to declare an area communally disturbed in the state government, although we have seen the complicity of the state itself in communal violence in recent times

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Crime and punishment

The recent conviction of caste panchayat leaders in Haryana who killed a young couple for marrying within their gotra is historic. But the knee-jerk reaction of calling for new laws on ‘honour killings’ will not help, says Supreme Court advocate Rakesh Shukla

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Sex, lies and videotape: The right to privacy in India

By Siddharth Narrain

In the recent cases of Swami Nithyananda and Prof S R Siras, the individual’s right to privacy has been violated in the name of “public morality”. But the Delhi High Court’s landmark judgment decriminalising homosexuality has clearly said that the right to liberty, dignity and privacy of individuals cannot be restrained by the notion of public morality

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'Love Jihad': A challenge to the Constitution?

The objection to inter-faith marriages, derisively called ‘love jihad’ by the Hindu right, goes against the very letter and spirit of the Indian Constitution, argues Arvind Narrain

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Against racism

Racial discrimination is increasing, and not only against Indian students in Australia. Dismissing racist attacks as hooliganism will not help, says Mukul Sharma. There is an urgent need to speak out frequently, strongly and at all levels of government against racism and xenophobia

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Dalits in a 'Hindu rashtra'

By Subhash Gatade

Everyone knows about Gujarat’s bias against Muslims. But consider the dalits in this ‘Hindu rashtra’: they are confined to ‘dalits only’ housing societies in Ahmedabad, school quotas for recruitment of dalit teachers are ignored, and dalits are buried in separate burial grounds if available and in wasteland if not

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Justice, not revenge

By Bikram Jeet Batra

In India, public support for capital punishment is quoted as the reason for continuing a practice that is increasingly being discredited worldwide. Yet, apart from half-baked media surveys and television SMS polls, there is no serious evidence to support this claim

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Academic untouchability?

If passed, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Reservation in Posts and Services) Bill 2008 will bar reservations at the faculty level for SCs, STs and OBCs in 47 premier institutions, including the IITs and IIMs . Why is there no opposition to this proposal to close the doors of our premier institutions to the historically oppressed, asks Subhash Gatade

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Reclaiming the meaning of independence: The struggle against special laws

The distinctive features of the revised Karnataka Control of Organised Crime Act, like of many of the special security laws being passed in India, are directly lifted from one of the most odious laws of British India, the Rowlatt Act, says Arvind Narrain

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Police reform: We need it, but do we want it?

Despite several laws and Supreme Court directives on how the police must conduct investigations and what the rights of citizens are, human rights abuses, corruption and misconduct persist in the Indian police force, says Navaz Kotwal

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Tibet needs meaningful autonomy, not independence: Dalai Lama

By Rashme Sehgal

Spiritualism alone cannot fill stomachs, says the exiled spiritual leader of the Tibetans in this exclusive interview. He believes there are benefits to staying with China, but only if China learns to respect democracy, civil rights and religious freedom

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The grammar of protest

By C S Venkiteswaran

Kerala does not tolerate anything but calibrated and conventional protest. The media recently "exposed"a group of youngsters expressing solidarity with the Chegara land struggle as frolicking and not serious. They trivialised in the process both the cause and the process of investigative journalism

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Development without inclusiveness aggravates resentments: Asma Jehangir

By Rashme Sehgal

The difference between the communalisation of Kashmir and of Gujarat is that there is no State complicity in the former, and no remorse in the latter, says Pakistani activist Asma Jehangir, Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion for the UN, who recently toured India

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Izzat ka mamla hai: The doomed love story of Rizwanur-Priyanka

By Rajashri Dasgupta

The indictment of the police by the CBI in the Rizwanur Rehman case in Kolkata reveals the complicity of State and society in maintaining and perpetuating regressive socio-cultural prejudices in the name of family honour and religious belief

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The merits of affirmative action

By Meher Gadekar

An important pillar of affirmative action in the US has been the preferential allotment of tenders and contracts in the corporate sector to blacks. What have opinion-makers and industry in India done to build a just society for dalits? Most recently,industry turned down the government's request for reservations in the private sector

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Open letter to Gandhiji on his 60th death anniversary

By Ravindra RP

On the Mahatma's 60th death anniversary, a former member of the right-wing RSS writes about his early indoctrination against Mahatma Gandhi and his eventual realisation of Gandhi's relevance in modern-day India

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India's senior citizens finally get a hearing

By Neeta Lal

The Union Cabinet's recent decision to approve a new law -- the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Bill 2007 aimed at helping the elderly live in dignity and peace -- is a welcome move towards the protection and care of India's 77 million elderly citizens

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Speaking out against wrong actions is both a right and a duty

By Sandhya Srinivasan

The recent arrests of Binayak Sen in Chhattisgarh and Arun Ferreira in Maharashtra are sending out a clear message that anyone who speaks out against the government and the status quo will be targeted. But surely challenging the conditions in which the vast majority of people live is a duty, not a crime, writes Sandhya Srinivasan

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The importance of social medicine

By George Thomas

Binayak Sen, who was arrested in Chhattisgarh in May, is one of very few medical practitioners in India who see their role as not just saving individual lives but examining and highlighting the social context of disease. Is it just to arrest a doctor who is acting according to his conscience?

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Playing God: The arbitrary nature of capital punishment

By Rakesh Shukla

The Supreme Court has stated that the death penalty is to be awarded only in the rarest case of exceptional depravity and brutality. But human judgement, as several recent court cases have revealed, is totally subjective

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A bargain-basement knowledge 'mandi'

By Rahul Goswami

The new US-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture will re-examine and overhaul existing curricula in agricultural education institutions in India. It will also leave Indian agriculture open to the interests of the world's largest food and agri-business corporations, says Rahul Goswami

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Refugees are not illegal migrants

By Oishik Sircar

Though India plays host to over 300,000 refugees from neighbouring countries, the country has a completely ad hoc system of refugee determination, deportation and protection

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Who says dalits under-perform?

By Chandra Bhan Prasad

Chandra Bhan Prasad responds to the debate about extending affirmative action for dalits to the private sector

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Dance bar ahead: Keep out: Part 2: The right to sexuality

By Maya Indira Ganesh

The ban on dance bars in Mumbai is ostensibly to protect youth from the sexualised environment of the bars. Instead of keeping the shadows and silences around sexuality intact, we need a rights-based approach to young people's sexuality, giving them the right to information that has a direct bearing on their health and well-being

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Brewing tensions in adivasi India

By Amitabh Behar

From the eviction of adivasis from forestlands in Madhya Pradesh's Burhanpur district to the continued threat to their lives from the army's routine firing exercises in Netarhat, Jharkhand, tribal populations throughout India are being exploited, intimidated and further alienated. The sharpening conflict between the adivasis and the Indian state must be addressed

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Untouchability: What the tsunami couldn't wash away

By Chandra Bhan Prasad

The dalit survivors of the tsunami were reportedly thrown out of relief camps, barred from using makeshift toilets, and given stale food. What will it take to wash away this powerful and destructive caste order that is so firmly rooted in Indian society, asks Chandra Bhan Prasad

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Baina beach demolitions: What about the sex worker's right to shelter?

By Rakesh Shukla

Acting on orders by the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court, around 250 huts belonging to sex workers, on Goa's Baina beach, were bulldozed in an effort to 'clean up' Goa. 'Operation Monsoon Demolition' appears to have been based on the assumption that sex workers have no right to shelter

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Putting a premium on diversity

By Darryl D'Monte

This year's Human Development Report comes as a breath of fresh air. It emphasises that enjoying cultural freedoms in the 21st century is a basic human right. And that instead of viewing diversity as a drag on development, we should consider cultural liberty an integral component of social and economic progress

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Untouchables in the world of IT

By Gail Omvedt

While the US's leading private sector IT firm, Microsoft, has recognised the need for affirmative action and is taking steps to increase minority recruitment, no Indian corporate house has declared its commitment to ending caste discrimination

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Orissa: A continuing denial of adivasi rights

By Anu Kumar

The recent Justice PK Mishra Commission report on the Maikanch firing in Orissa's Rayagada district, in which three adivasis were killed in December 2000 as they opposed displacement, faults the police for excessive use of force. But the report dilutes its impact by observing that environmental protection cannot hold back Orissa's development

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Big Brother in the bedroom: 'Unnatural' offences and Section 377

By Laxmi Murthy

Decriminalising private, consensual adult sexual behaviour, the Indian government feels, might open the floodgates of delinquent behaviour. By refusing to repeal Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, the government is reinforcing 150-year-old strictures disapproving sex for pleasure and not procreation. Shouldn't the State allow consenting adults to make their own sexual choices?

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