Welcome to Navsarjan last modified 2010 01 14 10 59 Many agricultural laborers work in the fields for 12 to 14 hours a day all for less than minimum wage Community Video Unit by david last modified 2010 01 14 10 54 The CVU produces monthly news magazines called Aapna Malak Ma giving a powerful voice to those who need it most Land Rights Campaign by david last modified 2010 01 14 10 42 Lack of land is a central reason for Dalit impoverishment Eradication of Manual Scavenging Campaign by david last modified 2010 01 14 09 08 Navsarjan has been working since 1996 to end this inhuman practice Human Rights Value Education by david last modified 2009 06 04 11 38 Education is a human right denied to many Dalit children Navsarjan works to restore that right Youth Awareness and Motivation by david last modified 2009 06 01 17 19 Navsarjan works to organize youth so that they can tackle some of their own issues Local Governance and Political Rights by david last modified 2009 06 01 17 12 Navsarjan provides training to help Dalit members of the Gram Panchayat village system fight discrimination in their villages Digitization of Research and Documentation
Impacts and Challenges
Welcome to Navsarjan laborers Manual Scavenging Eradication Campaign Impact Many young people from the Valmiki community are choosing vocational training such as that offered by Dalit Shakti Kendra instead of manual scavenging Issues of manual scavenging and sewage work have remained in the media regularly A landmark court victory in 1996 in which the Gujarat government was forced to admit that it employed thousands of Valmikis to do manual scavenging Many practicing manual scavengers are now vocal about the fact that their work is manual scavenging whereas in the past they never talked about it They had been afraid to admit that it was manual scavenging in fear of losing their jobs Many have now gained the confidence to speak about their work to the media government officers and in the local government offices Challenges It is often difficult to convince manual scavengers to leave their work which many consider stable because they are government employees and receive a regular paycheck The government frequently refuses to take action as it continuously drags its feet and evades responsibility Government officers at all levels repeatedly claim that there is no manual scavenging in Gujarat because accepting that the process exists would mean that they have a responsibility to end it They are all comfortable with the status quo It is often a challenge to convince non Valmiki Dalits to accept the manual scavenging problem as their own Many non Valmiki Dalits do not want to make manual scavenging a Dalit issue Loans meant for the rehabilitation of practicing manual scavengers into dignified occupations are given by government officers to people from the Valmiki community who have political connections but are not involved in manual scavenging That way government officers can claim that they are helping Valmikis when in reality they are doing nothing to help those engaged in manual scavenging Valmikis who are actually engaged in manual scavenging need a certificate certifying as such from the government but the government officials refuse to grant such certificates They provide no support and often do not give any response at all As a result practicing manual scavengers are unable to get the loans they need to change occupations Some manual scavengers who do get loans do not spend the money on finding a new occupation or starting a business but spend it however they like Valmikis who open up a tea stall or some other small shop often face untouchability based discrimination both from non Valmiki Dalits and from non Dalits and they cannot get enough customers to make any money Land Rights Campaign Impact Thousands of acres of land have been awarded to formerly landless Dalit poor Dozens of housing plots have been awarded to Dalit poor in women s names Hundreds of families have joined the Land Rights Army Jamin Adhikar Sena a community group dedicated to securing land rights for landless poor Sustained awareness and training programs as well as training of Land Rights Army leaders has led to individuals taking up and fighting cases on their own without Navsarjan s assistance Seasonal migration has decreased among those families who have gained posession of agricultural land Untouchability and other forms of discrimination have decreased due to cooperation between Dalits and non Dalits on this issue Challenges Dominant caste members often provide resistance to acquisition of land by Dalits The Government itself often refuses to actually follow through on its plans for land redistribution and on its court awards There is nearly always violence or threat of violence in response to acquisition of land by landless Dalits Continuous land encroachment and crop damage presents on ongoing problem Youth are less interested in farming compared to their parents There is a lack of irrigation infrastructure forcing small landholders to migrate for a portion of the year A large amount of land is being sold by small landholders tempted by high land prices Center for Dalit Human Rights Impact By intervening in cases of atrocities CDHR has ensured that cases of atrocities are properly registered and investigated by the police and effectively prosecuted by the government and that victims of atrocities are sufficiently compensatied Through its media advocacy CDHR has sensitized the media with regards to the number and types of atrocities committed against Dalits By pressuring government officials to intervene in cases of atrocities against Dalits CDHR s efforts have also resulted in some degree of government sensitization on issues facing Dalits including the non enforcement of Dalit protective legislation More urban as well as rural Gujaratis are becoming aware of their human rights through community meetings empowering them to register complaints of human rights violations on their own Village paralegals are sufficiently trained to register cases of atrocities and combat untouchability on their own Navsarjan has won major court victories particularly those of rape and murder sending the message that those who commit atrocities will be held accountable The conviction ratio of cases fought by Navsarjan is increasing and the number of victims who want to accept a compromise for money is decreasing Training of District Human Rights Defenders DHRDs has led to a vast increase in the number of complaints filed with the National Human Rights Commission As a result Gujarat now stands as the state with the second highest number of complaints filed against it in all of India Challenges While the number of convictions in atrocities cases are increasing the prison sentences perpetrators face remain lower than what is mandated by law A number of obstacles continue to exist delaying the timely and accurate registration of First Information Reports FIRs absolutely crucial for the investigation and prosecution of a crime In particular for atrocities cases Police officers seldom care about atrocities cases Police officers believe that Dalits are registering false cases Police officers are unaware of provisions of The SC ST Prevention of Atrocities Act or its existence altogether Police officers turn a traumatized victim s statement into the FIR rather than the carefully drawn complaint submitted by CDHR on behalf of
Documents & Reports
Welcome to Navsarjan you to Rebiya Kadeer East Turkestan Soe Myint Burma Martin Macwan India Khassan Baiev Chechnya Aminatou Haidar Western Sahara Samuel Kofi Woods Liberia Vuyiseka Dubula South Africa Maria Gunnoe United States Pablo Fajardo Ecuador Liliana Ortega Venezuela Sheila Watt Cloutier Nunavut Canada These testimonies have one thing in common the local illustrates the global The Inuit story illustrates global warming The Sahrawi story illustrates that totalitarianism is alive and well The Ecuadorian story illustrates why corporate social responsibility must be taken seriously all the way to the courthouse In the end the truth will out Sometimes the last straw is nothing other than yourself Understanding Untouchability by navsarjan last modified 2010 01 29 11 30 A comprehensive study of practices and conditions in 1589 villages in Gujarat conducted by Navsarjan and Robert F Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights A Legally Immune Form of Discrimination Report on Socioeconomic Boycotts of Dalits in Gujarat by pranav last modified 2009 12 18 11 55 Report by Jenny Paleaz Public Hearing Report on Atrocities on Dalits in Gujarat by pranav last modified 2009 06 23 19 14 A Report of Public Hearing on atrocities on Dalits in Gujarat which was held in Ahmedabad on 31st March 2008 This report is prepared by Ms Jeena Shah an attorney from the United States who joined Navsarjan as a fellow from American India Foundation and worked in the organization for ten months Dalit Rights by pranav last modified 2009 01 05 20 13 Its a document written by Martin Macwan It helps in understanding the caste system in India This document was published by the National Human Rights Commission of India Primary Education for Social Engineering by pranav last modified 2009 01 05 20 06 An article sharing the need for ensuring primary education for
Welcome to Navsarjan law degree at the same time helping to found an agricultural laborers union and developing women s cooperatives in order to encourage economic independence Manjula began to conduct training programs for new Navsarjan fieldworkers in 2000 and used the opportunity to strengthen the leadership skills of other Dalit women within the organization This goal has continued to be a priority for Navsarjan Now having led Navsarjan since 2004 trained thousands of grassroots activists and dozens of advocacy organizations represented the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights NCDHR served as a member of the Executive Committee for the National Center for Advocacy Studies personally briefed the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and repeatedly represented the issues facing Dalits and Dalit women internationally in Switzerland the United States South Africa and many other countries Manjula is one of India s foremost Dalit woman leaders Navsarjan s Fieldworkers In direct contact with the addressees of Navsarjan s efforts as well as with its adversaries Navsarjan s fieldworkers are the true face and the arms of the organisation Everyday they are exposed to complex situations ranging from the worst atrocity cases to domestic disputes Fieldworkers are required at times to fill in forms and write letters settle arguments between conflicting parties and deal with the authorities all while being inspiring community leaders Navsarjan s fieldworkers have become all around activists who visit Dalit communities in the villages and run district and taluka offices Navsarjan currently employs about 100 fieldworkers each of whom must complete a one year training course that equips them with the necessary legal political and social knowledge to counsel represent and support Dalit villagers whenever they are confronted by an administrative body They are supported in their daily activities by a range of volunteers Swayamsevaks many of whom have themselves taken part
Who are Dalits?
Welcome to Navsarjan the Sanskrit syllabus of graduation studies in Gujarat even today preach the sanctity of the varnas and uphold the principles of gradation and rank They refer to the impurity and servility of the outcastes while affirming the dominance and total impunity of Brahmins Those from the lowest castes are told that their place in the caste hierarchy is due to their sins in a past life Vivid punishments of torture and death are assigned for crimes such as gaining literacy or insulting a member of a dominant caste Among the writings of Hindu religious texts the Manusmitri is undoubtedly the most authoritative one legitimizing social exclusion and introducing absolute inequality as the guiding principle of social relations Forced exclusion and constant oppression Today Dalits make up 16 2 of the total Indian population but their control over resources of the country is marginal less than 5 Close to half of the Dalit population lives under the Poverty Line and even more 62 are illiterate Among the Dalits most of those engaged in agricultural work are landless or nearly landless agricultural laborers The average household income for Dalits was of Rs 17 465 in 1998 just 68 of the national average Less than 10 of Dalit households can afford safe drinking water electricity and toilets which is indicative of their deplorable social condition Moreover Dalits are daily victims of the worst crimes and atrocities far outnumbering other sections of society in that respect as well The vast majority of these crimes remain unreported due to omnipresent fear and those that are reported are often ignored by police or end up languishing in the backlogged court system Between 1992 and 2000 a total of 334 459 cases were registered nation wide with the police as cognisable crimes against SCs More than 60 years after gaining Independence India is still very much afflicted by the cancer of the caste system Dalits remain the most vulnerable marginalized and brutalised community in the country Dalits in Gujarat If compared to states like Punjab Himachal Pradesh or West Bengal where Dalits constitute more than 20 per cent of the population Gujarat counts a fairly low proportion of Dalits According to the 2001 Census there are approximately 3 6 million members of Scheduled Castes in Gujarat which represents 7 1 of the state s total population This relatively low figure is however inversely indicative of their miserable condition More than 80 per cent of the Dalits in Gujarat are daily labourers the majority of which are in the agricultural sector Half of the SC population is landless or owns less than one acre of land which forces them to work on dominant castes land in order to survive Because of this dependence and the quasi inexistence of labour welfare in Gujarat Dalits are subject to immense pressure and utter discrimination Atrocities committed against them are a daily reality with more than 4 000 cases reported in the span of 3 years in just 14 districts Manual scavenging
What is "Untouchability"?
Welcome to Navsarjan every sphere of life and practiced in an infinite number of forms At the village level Dalits are barred from using wells used by non Dalits forbidden from going to the barber shop and entering temples while at the level of job recruitment and employment Dalits are systematically paid less ordered to do the most menial work and rarely promoted Even at school Dalit children may be asked to clean toilets and to eat separately As an instrument of casteism Untouchability also serves to instill caste status to Dalit children from the moment they are born Kachro filth Melo dirty Dhudiyo dusty Gandy mad Ghelo stupid Punjo waste are just some of the names given to Dalit boys in Gujarat Of course names with similar meanings are given to Dalit girls too This shows the debilitating effect of Untouchability as it becomes a conscious act of cooperation between two individuals of distinct caste or sub caste identity The person treated as untouchable submits himself or herself to untouchability practices because of a generational integrated belief that it is right justified religious and natural Untouchability is in this sense a corollary of the caste system and the only way to get rid of it seems to be to get rid of the caste system itself Focusing on Untouchability ignores the root cause of the problem all the more so as Article 17 of the Indian Constitution which bans Untouchability confines its definition to individual discrimination against certain classes of persons not easily identifiable The 1950 national constitution of India legally abolishes the practice of untouchability and there are constitutional reservations in both educational institutions and public services for Dalits Unfortunately these measures have not changed the reality of daily life for most Dalits as the Indian government frequently tolerates oppression and
Atrocities and Interventions
Welcome to Navsarjan the Brahmins only in 7 of the cases Violence is further aggravated as guilty persons are rarely immediately arrested and by the time they are punished people generally have forgotten the crime The unbearably slow legal procedures and the lengthy and costly processes only add insult to injury victims and their relatives often live in proximity to the culprits who often threaten them further Despite the 1989 Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act which provides for appointments of Special Courts and Government Prosecutors for expediting proceedings these situations have not changed In practice the Act is often not properly implemented by the Police In 11 surveyed Districts of Gujarat it was found that the percentage of application of the Atrocity Act by the Police was only slightly more than 60 Moreover because the Police often prefer certain sections of the Act to others and because at other times only a very vague reference to the Act is made there has been a growing general impression that Dalits have been abusing this Act The truth is that the Police constables are generally not familiar with the provisions of the Atrocity Act and are also susceptible to both caste allegiance and bribery Atrocities against Dalits The term atrocity is a legal one Atrocity cases against Dalits vary in severity and form including the following 1 Causing injury insult or annoynance to a Dalit 2 Assaulting raping or using force of any kind against a Dalit woman or a Dalit girl 3 Physically injuring or murdering a Dalit 4 Occupying or cultivating any land owned by or alloted to a Dalit 5 Forcing a Dalit to leave his her house village or other place of residence 6 Interfering with a Dalit s legal rights to land premises or water 7 Compelling or enticing a Dalit to do begar or similar forms of forced or bonded labour 8 Intentionally insulting or intimidating a Dalit with the intent to humiliate him Acts of atrocity against Dalits continue to occur at alarming rates in Gujarat In 1998 Gujarat ranked second highest among all Indian states in the volume of crimes committed against the Scheduled Castes at 62 cases per one lakh of population While this is high it is important to note that underreporting is very common thus this number conceals the extent to which these atrocities occur A recent study conducted by Navsarjan demonstrated that of all of the atrocity cases that occurred across four districts in Gujarat 36 6 were not registered under the Atrocity Act and that of the cases where the Act was applied 84 4 were registered under the wrong provisions thus concealing the intensity of the violence in the cases The police and the legal system are also often very slow in responding to cases filed under the SC ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 In 2000 in Gujarat there were 13 293 cases registered in courts under the SC ST Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 all
The Dalit Movement Today
Welcome to Navsarjan backgrounds Dalits who have converted to a different religion but still suffer discrimination and allows for the inclusion of people who are not from the untouchable castes but still believe in values of equality A past passive participle of the Sanskrit root dal that means to crack or split the word Dalit is today common across most Indian languages meaning poor and oppressed people As it refers to those who have been broken ground down by those above them in a deliberate way there is also clearly an inherent denial of pollution karma and justified caste hierarchy to the word itself Though use of the term Dalit in public discourse is of relatively recent origin the 1960s it is supposed to have been used first by Jotirao Phule 1827 1890 in his attempt to work for dalituthan that is the uplifting of the exploited sections of society While Dr Ambedkar did not popularize the word Dalit his philosophy has remained a key source in its emergence and popularity Marathi literary figures and neo Buddhists began to use the word in their writings and contributed to the literary initiatives in replacing Harijan man of God and achchuta untouchable with Dalit in the 1970s They expressed their anger protest and aspiration through this new word rejecting the Hindu caste system and objecting to Gandhi s belief that caste Hindus charitable spirit would be enough to overcome Untouchability While the word Dalit stems from opposition to terms bestowed upon Dalits by the non Dalits terms that legitimised their discrimination and deprivation it has today essentially emerged as a political category Dalits in legal parlance are called Scheduled Castes SCs and are identified as such by the President of India under Article 341 of the Constitution This constitutional identity however is exclusive and fails