[WSMDiscuss] Because Caste Is a Reality

Umakant uk4in at yahoo.co.in
Sun Apr 1 14:30:46 CEST 2018


Greetings!On the link given below and pasted below you could read an editorial in thelatest edition of Economic and Political Weekly on the need for a strong lawagainst recurrent caste atrocities. 


Onthe second link also mentioned below you could read and watch a documentarynamed Caste and Servitude. This documentary is about murder of a Muslim Maganiyarfolk singer. Mirasi/Manganiyar are low caste people found among both Hindus andMuslims. Caste system works in its own myriad ways in different settings. Eventhe follower of Islam and Christianity on the Indian sub-continent practice it,though the degree and form may vary. 


Dopass it on to others in your circle/network. 


Because Caste Is aReality 

Editorial, EPW, Vol. 53, No. 13, March 31, 2018 



Possible misuse cannot detract from the need for a strong law againstcaste atrocities.


Therecent Supreme Court judgment regarding the Scheduled Castes and ScheduledTribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, or the anti-atrocityact, has been viewed by many concerned people as a step that undercuts thelaw’s effectiveness in providing instant protection to victims of caste-basedatrocities. The judgment, apart from diluting the provision that disallowedanticipatory bail, now requires a preliminary inquiry before a firstinformation report is registered. Such a precondition would dent the confidenceof Dalits and Adivasis who try to approach the justice delivery system.


Inits original form, the act did empower Dalits and Adivasis to confront theperpetrators who are the embodiment of the corrosive and coercive socialauthority that is caste. This law offers protection against the inevitablehuman lapse in the procedure of justice. Despite this, there is a frustratinglylow rate of conviction. For example, in 2016, 89.7% cases in regard toScheduled Castes were pending in different courts. The pendency rate forScheduled Tribes was 87.1% in the same year. This backlog could be attributedto a deliberate flouting of the provisions that provide for the speedy disposalof the cases. Has the Supreme Court given any assurance of keeping thepreliminary process free of caste bias? Is the indirect assumption behindinsisting on a preliminary inquiry that there is a lack of moral stamina in thelegal subject (in this case Dalits), who has the “propensity” to misuse thislaw?


Byrecommending a preliminary inquiry, the apex court seems to be offering a legalsolution to what is perceived as a “moral deficiency” among Dalits and Adivasis.While one may not find this reading entirely problematic, we expect the Courtto reflect on the colossal depletion of moral resources among members of Indiansociety. This depletion was evident in the active atrocities inflicted onDalits at Una in Gujarat and the passive atrocities that reflect the attitudeof indifference that non-Dalits adopt towards victims of caste atrocities.


Thejustice delivery system, particularly in the liberal framework, does not treatthe attitude of indifference as a punishable act. This is because it is theindividual and not a passive mob that is held responsible either for committinga social crime or a moral crime such as the misuse of a particular legalprovision. Thus, the justification of a preliminary inquiry is located in theneed to protect the individual from the perceived misuse of a particular lawand to create a condition of fairness for both the accused and the accuser.


Althoughthis discreet conception of the individual as a legal subject may lookreasonable to some sections of society, it leads to two basic problems. First,such a conception, in its attempt to contain the misuse of the law, tends topush every other genuine case of atrocity into the zone of suspicion and lendsa kind of tentativeness to it. In fact, it renders the concrete ground ofatrocities quite ambiguous. Caste atrocities as a grotesque ­social realitythus end up acquiring a kind of groundlessness.


Second,according to the judgment, both the accused and the accuser are just thesurface manifestation of forces that exist outside the law books as well asoutside the legal gaze of the concerned court. These forces can be identifiedwith locally dominant non-Dalit castes whose need to remain powerful in localfactionalism sometimes compels Dalits to create the conditions for themanipulation of any law, including this one.


Weneed to heed the perception of Dalits that this law is a moral carapace thatthey are forced to carry on their backs. In other words, the law generates akind of unhappy consciousness among the Dalits in a moral sense. Therefore, weshould not ­assume that they have the propensity to misuse it.


Weshould also ask who provided the formative condition for the enactment of thisact. Since atrocities necessarily result from the everyday social need of theupper castes to remain dominant, it is the non-Dalit castes that should takethe moral lead in eliminating the possibility of misuse of any law. Putdifferently, if caste was not a reality but just a rumour, then one would nothave had any need for a law like the anti-atrocity act. Since any society isnot self- evidently decent, and caste practices have become a matter of habitfor a majority of Indians, taking recourse to this law with its strongprovisions was considered to be inevitable. 


Thus,court judgments developed around the legal subject should ultimately becomecollective moral expressions of an entire society that aspires to become morereceptive to common human concerns. This is not to suggest that the Indian legalsystem has been insensitive to this need. Progressive judicial activismarticulated through the intervention of normative judgments should become thecollective expression of society. The short-term view of addressing thefairness of individual cases would snatch away whatever little protectionDalits have in the undiluted act. The short-term view tends to block theprogress of collective moral consciousness that is necessary for the law tobecome an expression of the social community.




OfCaste And Servitude: A Murder in Rajasthan​​




In September 2017, a folk singer was bludgeoned todeath in Rajasthan. Following the murder, members from his community fled theirnative village. An investigation into the events surrounding his death revealsan intricate web of caste allegiances at play. 




WithRegards and In Solidarity 

Umakant,Ph. D 



My final words of advice to you are educate, agitate and organize; have faith in yourself. With justice on our side I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual. There is nothing material or social in it. For ours is a battle not for wealth or for power. It is battle for freedom. It is the battle of reclamation of human personality. 
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