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GPO customers’ woes!

 Editor,

Apropos the news “Link-failure misery for GPO customers,” (ST, Jan 08) the statement given by the Senior Superintendent of Post (SSP), GPO, Shillong smacks of utter callousness. Internet link failure is a perennial problem at the ground floor counters of the GPO and none knows it better than we customers. The counters meant for opening of new savings account, of late, is taking more than a fortnight to open such accounts and deliver customers their passbooks. The time taken by these counters also pinpoints to the ineptitude level of the clerks who are manning them. And how BSNL was replaced with a jerky Sify as its link problem at the GPO counters more than proves that it is a total failure. The SSP seems to be in a wonderland oblivious of her own “ground” situation sitting at the first floor. Hope the new CPMG is watching?

Yours etc.

PK Dwivedi

Shillong – 1

Juggernaut of caste prejudice

Editor,

In his letter, ‘Agree to disagree’ ( ST, January 9, 2016), Mr. Kajal Chatterjee labels the concern for dalits as a signature of ‘biased mindset’ by citing the examples of his Brahmin cousin being mocked for his uncommon surname ‘Malkhandi’ and some dalits doing exceptionally well in the field of education. He also points out that the cases of dropout from school can happen in any poor family irrespective of its caste. His views merit a glance on some of the hard facts about how dalit children are actually doing in school in twenty first century India. According to UNICEF report the dropout rate in dalit children is generally high in India. It is as much as 44.27 per cent in primary school ( study conducted in 2006). The IDSN and Navsarjan briefing note of 2010 reveals that although the general dropout rate has decreased , ( please note! ) the difference in dropout rates between dalit youth and all Indian youth has actually grown in 2008. A survey by Navsarjan Trust, India brings out the bitter fact that teachers, local governments and community members routinely subject the children of manual scavengers to discrimination and forced labour as part of their daily experience of attending school and living in their community. Therefore, the UN report suggests that more needs to be done as there is widespread discrimination against dalits throughout the entire educational system in India. So it can clearly be seen that the juggernaut of caste prejudices causes the rise in dropout rates in school among dalit children in modern day India. Mr. Kajal Chatterjee rightly reminds us that our discussion on surname/ caste marked family occupation makes us oblivious of the fact that we also tend to discriminate on actual occupations giving more respect to dishonest officers than honest peons. However, interestingly this is also a product of caste prejudice. The dignity of labour is much less in India. Thanks to age old caste system that devalues blue collar jobs to such an extent that there occurs an unfathomable gulf between blue and white collar workers. This Brahminical contempt for manual jobs makes even Brahmin blue collar workers of modern India suffer. Apart from Brahmin Priests, Kshatriya Rajanyas and to some extent Vaishya traders all the manual jobs have, traditionally, been looked down upon in India. The Vedas brainwashes us that Brahmins are created from God’s mouth, Rajanyas from his arms, Vaishya’s from his thighs and Sudras come out from his feet (Purusha Sukta; Rig Veda 10/90/12, Yajur Veda 31/11 and Atharva Veda 19/6/6). Later Manu Samhita and other Sastras make those manual labourers untouchables. Manu Samhita (8/281) dictates that if a low-caste man tries to place himself on the same seat with a man of a high caste then he shall be branded on his hip and be banished, or ( the king) shall cause his buttock to be gashed. This prejudice still rules the roost in India that leads some primary teachers to touch their dalit students with sticks to avoid physical contact (Pratichi Trust Report). Unfortunately, it is observed that modern day Manus are stooping very low to suppress the rise of dalits. Thus the crime against dalits is shooting up every year. The statistics compiled by National Crime Records Bureau ( NCRB) shows a hop, skip and a jump in crime against dalits- 33,655 cases in 2012, 39,408 cases in 2013 and 47,064 ( a nasty jump!) in 2014. The rape on dalit women also witnesses a monstrous rise- 1,576 in 2012, 2,073 in 2013 and 2,233 in 2014. Crime and atrocities against dalits in Haryana have gone up by about two and a half times during 2004-2013 compared to 1994-2003 period. Therefore, we all need to fight against each and every devilish prejudice against dalits and women or in other words against humanity. All castles of such prejudices be it surnames, kangaroo courts, caste stinking comments, advertisements or acts should be banished. It is a crying need not a ‘fashion'(!). Rather it will be highly unjust we if address this horrible reality after a fashion.

Yours etc.,

Sujit De,

Kolkata

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