Saturday, July 24, 2010

[ZESTCaste] Casteist reporting

Casteist reporting

An amazing story in India Today seems to think that appointing Dalit
cooks in schools is a deliberately divisive move by a state
government. K S SUDEEP marvels at Piyush Srivastava's interpretation.

Posted Friday, Jul 23 21:35:02, 2010

So those kids were all living happily together. They were friends,
caste and class did not matter. And then some "Dalit cooks" came and
divided them.

That is what this India Today report
tries hard to convince us. Titled "Dalit cooks divide UP schoolkids",
the report by Piyush Srivastava explains how the introduction of Dalit
cooks in schools led to a "bad situation" in Uttar Pradesh.

"Mid-day meals prepared by Dalit cooks has created such a bad
situation in UP that upper caste students are leaving government
schools in droves - so far the number is 1,000.."

The report goes on to give us some glimpse into the history and tells
us how BSP had piggybacked on the support of Dalits and Brahmins to
come to power in UP and how the Mayawati government failed to live up
to its promises.

"..But once there, Mayawati and her party failed to bridge the gap
between the upper castes and the Dalits. Rather than achieving social
harmony, it has led to increased casteism as is evident from the fact
that the students have been boycotting schools over Dalit cooks…"

Very funny, but in a very sad way. It is the upper caste and OBC
people who refused to eat food that the dalits cooked. And Sri
Srivastava concludes that it is the Dalit cooks (and the government
that ordered appointment of these Dalit cooks in schools) who are
responsible for the "increased casteism".

Some parts of the report are factually misleading as well. For
instance, it says:

" ..this [continuing instances of violence and boycott] has mounted
pressure on the BSP which had passed a diktat making it compulsory for
every government school to appoint a Dalit cook where there are two

It is not that the BSP government had a fancy idea one day and gave a
"diktat" of their own to appoint Dalit cooks in the schools. There are
Supreme Court orders regarding recruitment of cooks from marginalized
communities. However, I think it is a commendable effort on the UP
government's side that they went ahead and implemented these orders.
One such order says; "In appointment of cooks and helpers, preference
shall be given to Dalits, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes."

[ ]

That is not all. The report even swears by Mahatma Gandhi in an all
out attempt to ridicule the Mayawati government.

"..What is worrying is that Mahatma Gandhi's ideals about a classless
society seem to have been forgotten.

And this is no isolated incident.

In July 2009, upper caste students in at least 15 villages of Kannauj
had stopped going to government schools. This year, the OBC students,
too, joined them when schools reopened after the summer vacation.."

Seriously, who is coming in the way of an "ideal" society? Some poor
dalit cooks? Or some people who consider themselves to be
"upper-caste" and superior to others and refuse to eat the food cooked
by others, more than 60 years past our independence? Or media like
India Today and journalists like Piyush Srivastava?

[Thanks to my friend Kuffir for sharing the link to the India Today
article on facebook. Thanks to Oommen for pointing out the SC orders
regarding appointment of cooks.]


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