Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bill to provide quota to Arunthathiyars passed

Bill to provide quota to Arunthathiyars passed
Express News Service
First Published : 27 Feb 2009 02:31:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 27 Feb 2009 10:55:34 AM IST
CHENNAI: The Tamil Nadu Assembly on Thursday unanimously passed a bill for reservation of three per cent seats to Arunthathiyars in educational institutions, including private educational institutions, in the State. There will also be reservations for appointments or posts in the services under the State in Tamil Nadu within the 18 per cent reservation for Scheduled Castes.
Chief Minister M Karunanidhi, now convalescing in a hospital after his spinal chord surgery, expressed his joy over the passing of the bill through a letter addressed to the House, which was read out by Local Administration Minister M K Stalin.
Piloting the bill in the House with the thumping of desks from the Treasury bench, Stalin said that the policy of reservation for the social and educational advancement of the people belonging to the Backward Classes in educational institutions in the State and for appointments in its services had been in vogue in Tamil Nadu for a long time.
The representatives of various political parties and social forums representing the Scheduled Castes have requested the State Government to consider providing a special provision for reservation for the group of Arunthathiyars within the reservation provided for the Scheduled Castes as they are in the lowest rung in social and educational fronts in society.
The one-man committee headed by Justice M S Janarthanam considered the issue of providing reservation for Arunthathiyars, within the quota of reservation for Scheduled Castes. The committee has submitted its report to the State Government. The report revealed that the representation of Arunthathiyars, with regard to admissions in educational institutions, professional or otherwise, is rather minimal and the educational opportunities are also knocked away by the upper crust of the hierarchy of castes from among the Scheduled Castes. The term ‘Arunthathiyar’ includes not just Arunthathiyars, but also Chakkiliyan, Madari, Madiga, Pagadai, Thoti and Adi Andhra.
Stalin also said that the State Government had formulated a Rs 22-crore package to provide Arunthathiyars jobs under the selfemployment mode, besides allocating Rs 6.3 crore for buying machinery to remove blocks in manholes in the Chennai Corporation and in nine other corporations in the state by way of helping the scavengers to avoid entering manholes and do manual scavenging.
While AIADMK member K A Senkottaiyan termed the bill as one aimed to make political gains, Deputy Speaker V K Doraisamy, Finance Minister K Anbazhagan, Ministers Parithi Ellamvazuthi and K Ponmudi hailed the bill for its path-breaking nature.

three tumblers in tea shops


http://www.tehelka.com/story_main33.asp?filename=hub010907shadowlines.asp Some Dalits Are Even Less Equal The Arunthathiyars bear the weight of caste oppression in Tamil Nadu, says R. Adhyaman I belong to the Arunthathiyar community, the most oppressed of the Scheduled Castes in Tamil Nadu, where Dalits comprise 20 percent of the population. Of the 76 communities listed as SCS, the Paraiyars, the Pallars and the Arunthathiyars are the three main groups.Arunthathiyars constitute about one-third of the state’s Dalit population and live in miserable conditions, working as manual scavengers, cobblers and agricultural labourers. Thousands are employed as conservancy workers in civic bodies. Though they speak Telugu at home, their children go to Tamil medium schools and follow Tamil customs. We are Tamils and that’s why I have named my organisation the Adhi Thamizhar Peravai. All Dalits are not equal. Arunthathiyars are looked down upon by other SCS. We bear the whole weight of caste oppression. It is no secret that the two-tumbler system is still prevalent in many villages. But I have news for you. There are villages where they keep three tumblers in tea shops — one for the caste Hindu, one for the Arunthathiyar, and one for the non-Arunthathiyar Dalit. The Pallars and Paraiyars think they are superior to us. They don’t inter-marry with us. The two Dalit parties in the state, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal (VC, formerly known as Dalit Panthers of India) and Puthiya Thamizhagam, represent the interests of the Paraiyars and the Pallars respectively. In the last Assembly elections, VC contested nine seats as part of the AIADMK front and all nine candidates belonged to the Paraiyar community.There are 44 reserved seats in the Assembly, but Arunthathiyars have never won more than five seats. At present, there are three Arunthathiyar MLAS — two in the DMK and one in the AIADMK. Paraiyars are the majority in the northern districts, Pallars in the southern districts, and Arunthathiyars in the western districts. No one except a Paraiyar can contest a reserved seat in the north. Pallars rule the roost in the south. But when it comes to areas where we are in majority, this rule does not apply. Parties field non- Arunthathiyars and win. The benefits of reservation for Dalits in Tamil Nadu have gone to Pallars and Paraiyars. There is 18 percent reservation for SCS. Our demand is that six percent of it should be earmarked for Arunthathiyars. We have represented our demands to Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi and he has promised to consider the matter. We have also asked him to take steps to abolish manual scavenging. The CM granted one of our demands and formed a welfare board for conservancy workers. Adhiyaman is founder president, Adhi Thamizhar Peravai, a Dalit social movement. As told to PC Vinoj Kumar ___________________________________________________

‘Manual scavenging is barbaric and goes against the conscience of civic society’

Web link:http://www.thehindu.com/2008/10/15/stories/2008101551790500.htm

Tamil Nadu - Salem Sanitary workers demand mechanisation of drainage cleaning work
R. Ilangovan
Manual scavenging is barbaric and goes against the conscience of civic society’

‘Nearly 4,000 workers have perished while cleaning manholes in the State in the last 20 years’
SALEM: The contract sanitary workers in local bodies, a majority of them Arunthathiyars, have urged the State Government to immediately ‘mechanise’ the underground drainage cleaning work.
They say that whenever underground drainage gets chocked, they will be lowered down into manholes with a rope tied to their waist.
Many have lost their lives, inhaling poisonous gases.
K.R. Ganesan, general secretary of the Tamil Nadu Rural Development and Local Administration Employees Sammelan, affiliated to the CITU, told The Hindu that manual scavenging “is barbaric and goes against the conscience of civic society”.
Welcoming the High Court’s directive banning the entry of any human into manholes for cleaning, he said that between December 27, 2006, and September 27, 2007, six scavengers, engaged in cleaning manholes, had died of asphyxiation in Chennai alone.
Such deaths were reported from Coimbatore and Madurai too. As per a rough estimate, nearly 4,000 workers had perished while cleaning manholes and septic tanks in the State in the past two decades, he said.
“Sadly neither have their families received any compensation nor have the police registered any case.”
The Arunthathiyar leaders say that private operators in charge of scavenging in many local bodies tap the untrained Dalit men, mostly from Arunthathiyar colonies. Pittance and pints of alcohol are offered in wages, they say.
“But whenever a fatality occurred, neither the contractor nor the local body would come forward to owe up responsibility,” said Mr. Ganesan, also a member of the Sanitary Workers Welfare Board.
The Arunthathiyar leaders fear the casualty may spike since many municipalities and town panchayats have started underground drainage projects.
The State Government should integrate the abolition of manual scavenging along with the project reports too, they insisted.
The Rural Development and Local Administration Employees Sammelan, which met here recently, announced that it would launch an agitation from November 10 to protest against the privatisation of sanitary works and to demand higher wages and mechanisation of scavenging.

Manual scavening documentary Film

Dear Friends
Arunthathiyer community .Who are mostly vulnerable group among dalits .Those are called Dalit Among Dalits Recently we did documentary film on Manual scavenging . our Tamilnadu government says No manual scavengers .But till exsisting .READ publish a documentary film on manual scavening
Please visit the film .

Please visit the film and sent your suggestion

Monday, March 23, 2009

News on Front Line -Arunthathiyer Innerreservation

Front Line web link : http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl2601/stories/20090116260110500.htm

Separate slice
Tamil Nadu “accepts in principle” a 3 per cent quota for a few sub-sects within the existing 18 per cent reservation for the Scheduled Castes.

CPI(M) members led by the party’s State Secretary, N. Varadarajan, in Dindigul on November 2, 2007, demanding a committee to look into exclusive reservation for Arunthathiyars.
ON November 28, 2008, Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M. Karunanidhi announced that the State Cabinet had “accepted in principle” the report of the one-man commission headed by M.S. Janardhanam, a retired judge of the Madras High Court, recommending a separate 3 per cent reservation for Arunthathiyar, Chakkiliyar and a few other sub-sects within the existing quota (18 per cent) for the Scheduled Castes (S.Cs). The announcement was made after an all-party meeting in Chennai.
Janardhanam, who was invited to brief the Cabinet about the commission’s recommendations, said the Arunthathiyar community and others chosen for separate reservation were in the most backward state of development. A Cabinet committee later decided the modalities to implement the recommendations. The Chief Minister said the recommendations would be implemented “immediately” as the basic objective of his government was to uplift the oppressed.
Leaders of almost all political parties hailed the decision. All India Anna Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam general secretary J. Jayalalithaa, who initially termed the decision on separate reservation “a political fraud” on the grounds that the State government had no power to “create” reservation within the reservation for the S.Cs., changed her stance the next day and welcomed the proposal. Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi president Thol. Thirumavalavan, who welcomed the decision, wanted the Chief Minister to convene a meeting of Dalit leaders to discuss the “successful implementation” of the 3 per cent reservation for Arunthathiyars.
N. Varadarajan, general secretary of the State Committee of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), and R. Athiyamaan, the founder of Adhi Thamizhar Peravai, an organisation of Arunthathiyars, which spearheaded the struggle for separate reservation, demanded the early implementation of the recommendations. Athiyamaan also wanted the quota to be increased to 6 per cent corresponding to their share in the State’s population.
Arunthathiyars, along with Chakkiliyars and a few other sub-castes, belong to the lowest strata of the caste-based social hierarchy and are the worst sufferers of untouchability. A significant section of these people is still used for removing night soil and cleaning underground sewers (see separate story). The traditional occupation of Arunthathiyars is making leather goods. They have played a notable role as makers and menders of kamalai, a leather bag used to draw water from wells to irrigate dryland. A significant number of them have been engaged in agriculture-related activities too.
The famines of the late 19th and early 20th centuries in the State forced them to migrate to towns and take up odd jobs as sweepers and manual scavengers.
Arunthathiyars and Chakkiliyars have been included in the list of S.Cs, who are entitled to 18 per cent reservation in education and employment and reservation in political positions. Together, the two communities account for about 15.5 lakh (13.1 per cent) of the Dalit population (1.18 crore) in Tamil Nadu. Dalits account for 19 per cent of the State’s total population (6.2 crore), according to Census 2001.
Among Dalits, the literacy rate of Arunthathiyars is 53.7 per cent and that of Chakkiliyars is 50.9 per cent. The corresponding figures for others are Paraiyars 65.9, Adi Dravidars 65.3 and Pallars 65. The overall Dalit literacy rate is 63.2 per cent against the State’s 73.5 per cent. The dropout rates among Arunthathiyar and Chakkiliyar children after the primary level are much higher than in Adi Dravidar, Pallar and Paraiyar communities (see table).
One of the reasons attributed to the relative backwardness of Arunthathiyars and Chakkiliyars in education is that they were late starters. During the British period, sections of the Adi Dravidar, Pallar and Paraiyar communities had the benefit of school education thanks to Christian missionaries. According to a researcher, missionaries did not show any interest in Arunthathiyars and Chakkiliyars because caste Hindus thwarted the conversion of these people as their services were indispensable to them.
Attempts to improve the lot of Arunthathiyars and Chakkiliyars were made by community leaders such as L.C. Gurusami, who founded the Arunthathiyar Mahasabha in 1920, and H.M. Jaganathan. They started schools for Arunthathiyar children. However, these schools closed down soon for want of government aid.
The Tamil Nadu Arunthathiyar Sangam, formed in 1958, organised the people in the community to assert their rights. An organisation named Youth Guidance Service, formed in 1984 by first-generation beneficiaries of the statutory reservation system, was the first to demand separate reservation for Arunthathiyars. The Adhi Thamizhar Peravai has also been fighting for the cause of the Arunthathiyars for over a decade now.
The struggle for “reservation within reservation” was intensified in 2007 with a rally organised by the CPI(M) in Chennai, in which over 30,000 Arunthathiyar people participated. The Adhi Thamizhar Peravai, together with the CPI(M), later held many demonstrations and meetings to press their demands for separate reservation.
The State government responded with the formation of a welfare board for Arunthathiyars and convened an all-party meeting in Chennai on March 12, 2008, to discuss the sub-quota demand. The consensus at the meeting was in favour of granting the demand, and the government appointed the Janardhanam Commission.
Issue of imbalance
The issue of imbalance among the different Dalit sub-sects and the need to take corrective steps have been highlighted by an advisory committee on the revision of lists of the S. Cs and the S.Ts as early as 1965.
The committee, headed by B.N. Lokur, the then Secretary of the Union Ministry of Law, observed: “It has been in evidence for some time now that a lion’s share of the various benefits and concessions earmarked for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is appropriated by the numerically larger and politically well-organised communities. The smaller and more backward communities [among the S.Cs] have tended to get lost in the democratic process, though more deserving of special aid….” He said “the time has come when the question of de-scheduling of relatively advanced communities should receive serious and urgent consideration” (“Caste card” by Jagdeep S. Chhokar, Frontline, August 15, 2008).
The judiciary also had occasion to look into the impact of reservation on the communities concerned and the steps to protect the weaker sections. In November 2004, the Supreme Court quashed an Andhra Pradesh Act that categorised the S.Cs into four groups for the purpose of admission to educational institutions and for employment. The Act, which came into being in 2000 replacing an ordinance, was based on the report of a commission the Telugu Desam government led by N. Chandrababu Naidu had appointed in response to a struggle by the Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti.
The samiti’s demand was to fix a sub-quota for Madigas, who constitute 40.99 per cent (3,263,675) of the S.C. population in the State. The demand was made on the grounds that Malas, whose share in the S.C. population was only slightly higher than theirs, at 46.94 per cent (3,737,609), had been cornering the benefits of reservation in larger proportions.
The commission agreed that there was a disparity and recommended corrective steps. The government accepted the findings and the Assembly passed the Andhra Pradesh Scheduled Castes (Rationalisation of Reservation) Act, 2000, to remove the disparity. The Act provided for dividing the listed castes into four categories for reservation.

The law was challenged in the High Court and the Full Bench upheld the legislation by four to one. When the issue came up before the Supreme Court on appeal, a five-judge Constitution Bench held that micro-classification of S.Cs into sub-groups and fixing different percentages of reservation for them within the overall S.C. quota was unconstitutional. The Bench said that reservation must be considered from the social objective angle, having regard to the constitutional scheme, and not as a political issue.
The court held that in the context of members of the S.Cs being the most backward among the backward classes, it was not permissible for the government to further classify them into sub-groups. The Bench, headed by Justice N. Santosh Hegde, therefore, quashed the Act holding that such micro-classification was in violation of the right to equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the Constitution. The Constitution Bench ruled that such classification of members of different classes of people on the basis of their respective castes would be “in violation of the doctrine of reasonableness”.
It said: “Article 341 of the Constitution provides that exclusion of even of a part or group of castes from the Presidential List can be done only by Parliament. State legislatures are forbidden from doing that.” The court further held that “a uniform yardstick must be adopted for giving benefits to the members of [the] Scheduled Castes for the purpose of the Constitution. The impugned legislation, being contrary to the above constitutional scheme, cannot, therefore, be sustained.”
The Supreme Court decision on the Andhra Act had far-reaching consequences. The Punjab and Haryana High Court held as void the sub-categorisation of S.Cs that was in operation in Punjab since 1975 and in Haryana since 1995. The Andhra Pradesh Assembly and the Punjab government then appealed to the Union government to enact a law to facilitate recategorisation. Soon it was noticed that the problem was not confined to these three States. There were complaints from more States that reservation had led to disproportionate benefits to certain sections of S.Cs at the cost of other sections. Accordingly, the Union government appointed a commission headed by Justice Usha Mehra to go into the issue.
The Usha Mehra Commission, in its report submitted to the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment in May 2008, reportedly favoured the classification of the S.Cs into sub-groups with a view to uplifting the status of the deprived lot among them and recommended that the Constitution be amended suitably for the purpose. The commission did not agree with the contention that the S.Cs as envisaged in the Constitution constitute a homogeneous group. It said that in terms of traditional occupation, caste practices and the physical structure of the villages, these castes differed from each other and as such there was apparently no homogeneity among them. The commission also said that its studies had shown that under the existing system there was no possibility of the benefits reaching those at the bottom in due proportion.
The Usha Mehra Commission’s recommendation has received mixed reaction from Dalit leaders. Ram Vilas Paswan, the Union Minister of Chemicals, Fertilizers and Steel, said that sub-categorisation would damage Dalit unity. He said there would not be any consensus on the proposal in the ruling United Progressive Alliance or its major component, the Congress.
While leaders of the disadvantaged Dalit sub-sects across the country have hailed the recommendation, others see it as a threat to Dalit unity. C.P. Prabakara Rao, president of the Andhra Pradesh Mala Mahanadu, said the commission’s recommendation suggesting sub-categorisation of S.Cs would not stand legal scrutiny.
The Union Social Justice Ministry has sent the Usha Mehra Commission’s report to the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) for its comments. The Tamil Nadu proposal also has come up before the NCSC for clearance. NCSC Chairman Buta Singh has reportedly promised Union Minister for Shipping, Road Transport and Highways T.R. Baalu to place the proposal, which had been approved by the State government “in principle”, before the commission. (Under Article 338 (9) of the Constitution, the governments at the Centre and in the States have to consult the commission whenever they take policy decisions relating to the S.Cs.)
Some sections among the Dalit activists and political parties, however, are sceptical about the early implementation of the proposal. Puthiya Thamizhagam president K. Krishnasamy said the proposal would be in a legal tangle inasmuch as an Andhra Pradesh Act on the subject has been quashed by the Supreme Court.
Dalit activist and member of the State Assembly D. Ravikumar pointed out a technical problem. He said that in the absence of a caste-wise census, the present reservation to Dalits was calculated on the basis of Census 1971, whereas the 3 per cent reservation for Arunthathiyars had been mooted on the basis of Census 2001. He wanted the government to increase the reservation for the S.Cs. from 18 per cent to 19 per cent on the basis of Census 2001 and also clear the backlog of vacancies in government departments.
P. Sampath, State convener of the Tamil Nadu Untouchability Eradication Front, hoped that the government would resolve the legal tangles and implement the proposal soon. He said that until manual scavenging and the deployment of Dalits for underground sewerage cleaning were ended, the liberation of Arunthathiyars would be incomplete.