MAC: Mines and Communities

India: Caste discrimination rules, even in the kilns

Published by MAC on 2016-01-17
Source: The Hans India, The Hindu

The curse of south Asian caste discrimination seems to prevail - even among workers sharing one of the dirtiest and potentially most dangerous of occupations - firing-up bricks in open kilns.

That's according to a recent article in Hans India newspaper, published from the newly-formed state of Telengana.

Further south, in Karnataka, members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes claim the local government discrimates against them by awarding coastal sand mining licences in favour of members of upper castes.

Caste raises ugly head in brick units

The Hans India

14 January 2016

In a bizarre practice, kiln workers belonging to upper caste are not willing to share rooms with lower caste labourers, let alone use the same kitchen to cook

Karimangar: The world may seem to be a much better place, with all sophistication and development, and authorities may be boasting about high standards of education, but the fact is, absurd practices are still prevalent in rural Telangana, much to the chagrin of civilised society.

In a classic example of ignorance and irrationality, brick kiln labourers of lower castes in Karimnagar district are being subjected to discrimination, by their own counterparts of upper castes.

Though these labourers toil day in and day out to make their both ends meet despite caste differences, when it comes to sharing of kitchen and night’s stay, workers belonging to lower castes have been kept at arm’s length by the so-called upper caste labourers, even as the owners of brick kiln units continuing to exploit them to the maximum. Apparently due to vehement caste sentiments, the labourers are not willing to unite against the injustice being done to them for long time.

Forget about kitchen, upper caste labourers do not share even shelters with lower community people. They demand brick kiln owners to set up shelters based on caste. Upper caste workers are not willing to stay if a lower caste family is allocated shelter in between their makeshift houses.

Keeping it in the mind, the owners of brick kiln units are constructing separate shelters based on caste since the district administration threatened to close down the units if the owners had failed to provide basic facilities including rooms, toilets, bathrooms, drinking water and schools for children of labourers.

Sharing his recent experience with The Hans India, Raju, owner of a brick kiln unit located near Sultanabad, said he had asked six male workers to stay in a room but four of them refused to stay along with remaining two persons stating that the two were lower caste people. Four labourers had been sleeping in a temporary shelter, he said, and added that they would not work if he mounted pressure on them.

Upper caste people did not accept if the roofs of their rooms shared with other castes workers, he informed. Another brick kiln supervisor, Kumar said they would not come forward to help lower caste people if a labourer was injured in an accident.

Labourers belonging to different castes such as Patel (Reddy), Pujari of upper caste, Bagh (Goud), Yadava of Backward Classes, Deep, Luchan, Suna and Taria of Schedule Castes and Manji and Jani of Scheduled Tribes migrate to here to work in brick kiln units.

A migrant labour, Damuru, who is working in Garrepalli unit, said upper caste people would not allow lower caste people to stay along with them since it was common practice across the country.

Sand extraction: preference sought for applicants from SCs, STs

The Hindu

14 January 2015

Applicants belonging to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe should be given preference and be allowed to extract sand in Dakshina Kannada, according to a Dalit activist.

Speaking at a meeting of Dalit leaders here on Wednesday, activist Narayan accused the district administration of not considering applications by SCs and STs for grant of permits to extract sand. If permits are issued for SCs and STs it will provide the much-needed economic stability for the members of the community.

“These permits should not be given to those close to councillors and legislators,” he said. Deputy Commissioner A.B. Ibrahim, who heads the District Task Force to regulate sand extraction in coastal regulatory zone, said permits were issued to all those who had submitted their applications between January and April 2015. “Whoever has filed application has been given,” Mr. Ibrahim said and added that nearly 200 permits were issued.

Of the 500 applications filed since May 2015, the task force has granted permits to 75 persons. “Give me details of persons (belonging to SC and ST) who have submitted their applications. We will consider it,” Mr. Ibrahim said.

On the question of construction of Ambedkar Bhavan in Urwa, District Social Welfare Officer Santosh Kumar said the process will start only after the State Cabinet approves the proposed sanction of Rs. 5.2 crore towards the construction cost.

Mr. Kumar said it was proposed to construct the Bhavan at a cost of Rs. 12 crore. The government has already released Rs. 2.4 crore, while the Mangaluru City Corporation will give a grant of Rs. 1 crore. The Commissioner for Social Welfare has agreed to sanction Rs. 3.5 crore. A proposal has been placed before the State Cabinet for sanction of Rs. 5.2 crore, he said.

Mr. Ibrahim said he will discuss with Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) regarding repair of narrow 3.5 km-long mud road connecting Alamba hamlet and Naravi that passing through Kudremukh National Park.



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