This week at Media Voices, Len Morris has a review of last week’s 60 Minutes piece, Children in the Fields. While it is certainly heartening to see a reputable nationally known news show feature children working in agriculture, the piece failed to address one of the most important things that is wrong about having children [...]
A report by the Jan Sahas Social Development Society on Dalits’ access to social services
This report, jointly produced by SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations) and ICN (India Committee of the Netherlands) highlights several labour rights violations faced by girls and young women employed under the Sumangali Scheme in the Tamil Nadu garment industry. The Sumangali Scheme equals bonded labour, on the basis of the fact that employers are unilaterally holding back part of the workers’ wages until three or more years of work have been completed. In addition, workers are severely restricted in their freedom of movement and privacy. Workers work in unsafe and unhealthy circumstances. Local and international NGOs have reported extensively on the Sumangali Scheme. Inevitably, brands and retailers sourcing from Tamil Nadu have Sumangali workers in their supply chain. ICN and SOMO denounce the Sumangali Scheme as outright unacceptable and are of the opinion that sourcing companies have a responsibility to ensure that workers’ rights are respected throughout their supply chain.
India Unheard correspondent Luxmi Nautiyal examines social practices of exclusion at the public school in Gairsen, Uttarakhand. Despite the fact that untouchability is against the law in India today, children in rural areas are still subject to caste discrimination in the very institution, the public school, that should be at the forefront of the struggle to change exclusionary attitudes.
The word balmiki meant little to me till December 1996 when Martin Macwan , founder of Navsarjan Trust Gujarat,talked about the plight of this community at a Delhi meeting. I put on my journalist hat and went to Gujarat where the Navsarjan Team took me from small town to small town to witness first hand [...]
This week at Media Voices, we have a wonderful blog from Jamila Larson, Baby on a Tightrope, about the mutually life-changing effect of mentoring a friend’s baby. As I write this, there is a story on the front page of The New York Times “Cuts to Head Start Show Challenge of Fiscal Restraint.” Head Start. [...]
For centuries, millions of so-called “untouchables” have faced prejudice and exclusion from Indian society. This United Nations film on the scheduled castes in India explores how sharing in certain ritual processions is beginning to break down the prejudice of centuries.
This week at Media Voices, we have an article by Mari Marcel Thekaekara, a wonderful writer who has made caste discrimination against the Dalits her particular focus. In A Historical Battle for Dignity for India’s Balmikis, an article written for the Dalit Network Netherlands, Thekaekara tracks the first steps the Balmiki community is taking to [...]
160 million people in India are born outside the four castes of the Varna system – the oldest surviving social hierarchy of the world.
They are called the “untouchables”
They themselves have chosen the name DALITS (broken people).
A production of the International Dalit Solidarity Network (ISDN)
Reporter Ramita Navai and producer Siobhan Sinnerton travel through India exposing the horrific plight of the country’s 170 million Dalits: literally “the broken people”, and previously called “the untouchables”; who are at the bottom of India’s caste system and are some of the most oppressed people on Earth. Economic growth has done little to improve the Dalits’ lot; despite legislation, they still form 60 per cent of all those below the poverty line. Now, as Unreported World reports, Dalits are starting to fight for political power in an Indian civil rights movement.
This is an article written by Mari Marcel Thekaekara for the Dalit Network Netherlands, as part of a series of articles on issues relating to Dalit women, men and children.
Thekaekara is a professional journalist on social issues and a media campaigner on the rights of Adivasi, Dalits and other disadvantaged groups. She has written in national and international magazines and newspapers as well as on websites which include The Hindu, Statesman, Times of India, Indian Express, Frontline, Economic and Political Weekly, Hindustan Times, Seminar, Infochange, New Internationalist and The Guardian.
Mari Marcel Thekaekara has written extensively on the issue of Dalit human rights, including the (violation of) rights of Dalit women, for e.g. the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights, Action Aid, Christian Aid and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative. A piece she wrote for The Hindu on children of sanitation workers won the Press Club Best Article of the Month award in 2004.
In particular, Thekaekara has closely tracked the issue of manual scavenging for over a decade. In 1999 she published the book Endless Filth which contributed significantly to attracting attention to the issue. Thekaekara has also documented in a number of articles the struggle against manual scavenging by the Safai Karmachari Andolan (SKA), a national movement against this inhuman practice.
Open publication – Free publishing
In 2008, the movie Slumdog Millionaire swept the Academy Awards, winning best picture and seven other Oscars. Shot in the slums and streets of Mumbai, the film tells the story of Jamal Malik, a young man who makes his way through life traveling atop trains, sweeping floors, begging and picking pockets, with the grinding realism [...]
2009 Annual Report on the work of the International Dalit Solidarity Network. IDSN brings together organisations, institutions and individuals concerned with caste-based discrimination and aims to link grassroots priorities with international mechanisms and institutions to make an effective contribution to the liberation of those affected by caste discrimination.