Educated by the Salesians, Sangma, is he a ‘practicing Catholic’.

Two religious riots – both engineered by the unscrupulous right wing Hindu nationalist forces – have become agonizing symbols of what could happen to Muslims and Christians in India if these forces are overtly or covertly supported by the government.

These happened, as the whole world knows now, in Gujarat in 2002 and Kandhamal, Odisha in 2008. In Kandhamal, the helpless victims were, just like P.A. Sangma, both tribal and Christian. If he truly cared for the rights of tribals and Christians, how will he view the Kandhamal riots?

Recently when asked for his views on the riots, he responded, ‘Where is the proof that the BJP has done it? Don’t make wild allegations!’ Is he trying desperately to turn his face away from the truth because of selfish political compulsions.

After absolving the BJP of any responsibility, Sangma is reported to have said that forgiveness is the heart of Christianity. That is quite true. But in this context, whom should Indian Christians forgive? If, according to Sangma, there is no evidence to link the BJP to the riots, why do they need forgiveness? If someone is not guilty, why talk of forgiveness?

Conserving Western Ghats

June 29, 2012
Making these slopes less slippery
Source: The Hindu

Rather than seek to impose inflexible solutions, the expert panel on conserving the Western Ghats has suggested guidelines for consulting people right down to the level of villages for the right answers

The report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), uploaded on the Ministry of Environment and Forests website as of May 23, has triggered a vigorous public debate on several vital issues before us; issues relating to environment — development choices and the proper roles of people and government authorities in deciding on these choices.

Panchayat Raj and Empowerment

June 18, 2012
Constitutionally empowered Act

Twenty years have passed since the Act on new Panchayati Raj Institutions (PRI) was put in place by the Constitution 73rd Amendment (1992). There were high hopes of empowering rural India’s two long-neglected sections of society — women and Dalits — through reservation of seats in elections to panchayat bodies. The reform was seen, understandably, as a major step in the direction of Dalit liberation.

Yet after two decades of its functioning, many feel that nothing much has come of this exercise. The reasons are not far to seek. From Day One, hard-core caste Hindu opponents of Dalits seemed bent on making the system non-functional inasmuch as it benefited Dalits. The 1992 constitutional amendment introduced systematic reservation of political positions for Dalits (besides women) in institutions of governance at the grass-roots level. This was the first time this was happening in the long history of local bodies in the country — something large sections of caste Hindus could hardly digest.

On the margins of the margin

June 20, 2012
On the margins of the margin

Badri Narayan

Dalit politics must embrace less powerful caste groups

When Kanshi Ram emerged on the political scene, he developed himself as a leader of all Dalits as a whole and tried to create a homogeneous identity for the diverse Dalit castes who comprise the lower castes of the social system. He ensured that each and every Dalit caste had respect by providing representation to them in democratic power. Through his efforts, a large section of Dalits, who were earlier excluded from the democratic processes of the country, have succeeded in obtaining political empowerment in Uttar Pradesh through the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). However out of the 66 Dalit castes, only four including shoemaker (cobbler) caste — called Ravidasi or Harijan in some parts of India — Pasi (watchman of feudal lords/toddy tappers/some of them tame pigs), Dhobi (washerman) and Kori (weaver) have become visible in democratic politics. The rest are invisible. Even among the more visible Dalit castes, the cobblers and Pasis have grabbed most of the space.


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