Sunday, 15 September 2013

When a Dalit woman is dishonoured and her family's life threatened

A report in question is at

Basically, the report says that the The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has asked the Sambalpur District Magistrate in Odisha to see whether any temporary relief can be provided under any welfare scheme to Subidha Buda, a BPL Dalit, who was disrobed and forced to stand naked in front of the public in Jayaghanta village on September 6 last year.

In fact, the woman was not only forced to stand naked, her hair was cut, she was insulted and beaten black and blue. Shrimati Buda, along with her son, a class V student and her daughter, both minors, left the village and took shelter at her elder daughter’s house. In the meantime, the house of the victim has been demolished.

My response:

"This is ridiculous!

"Does a District Magistrate or indeed any human being really need a request or order from any Commission to provide "temporary relief" to a woman forced to stand naked and beaten?

"If a District Magistrate lacks even such elementary human sympathy or sense of duty, should this kind of person be allowed to become or continue as a District Magistrate?

"It is worth asking whether such an event could ever happen in a District without the complicity of the local Magistrate? If not, how come he or she did not immediately swing into action against the culprits?

"Indeed, how come the Magistrate has not been disciplined by her or his superiors? Does this not indicate the complicity of the superiors in such matters?

"Of what use is a Commission if it cannot pose such basic questions?

"What is wrong with us Indians that we react only when middle-class women get raped in Delhi, but do not react when a Dalit's honour and even a whole family's life is compromised in our Districts?"

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Please consider signing Letter of Protest to India's Ministry of Human Resource Development, regarding their Notice to Professor Yogendra Yadav of the University Grants Council

I have received the following plea from a trustworthy fellow-academic. I am not aware of all the details of the case, but the details given below have satisfied me sufficiently to prompt me to sign the letter. I would request you to consider doing the same - if you wish to do so, please send an email to Shri Prashant Bhushan on OR to Prof. Anand Kumar at

Here is the text of the letter of protest:


Dr. M. Mangapati Pallam Raju,

Minister of Human Resource Development,

Government of India.

Dear Dr. Raju,

The news of the Ministry of Human Resource Development serving a show-cause notice to Prof. Yogendra Yadav, Member, UGC, to explain why he should not be removed from the UGC has shocked and dismayed the academic community. The notice mentions a conflict of interest, Prof. Yogendra Yadav being an active member of a newly registered political party, as the reason for such removal.

The UGC has a formal policy on Conflict of Interest and Code of Conduct for Members of the Commission which does not mention political activity as a potential conflict of interest. The University Grants Commission (Disqualification, Retirement and Conditions of Service) Rule, 1992 provides for specific grounds of disqualification which, again, does not include membership of a political party as a valid ground. It is evident that the decision of serving the show-cause notice stems from the fact that Prof. Yogendra Yadav chose to be an active member of the Commission who raised questions and recorded his objections in regard to several matters of national importance such as the introduction of the four year undergraduate programme in Delhi University, bypassing of the recommendations of the UGC committee in the notification of the API scheme, closing down of Centres for Social Inclusion and Exclusion, and the decision to set up a Centre on Teacher Education in a Technical University that does not even have a department of education. Prof. Yogendra Yadav’s persistent efforts to point out irregularities in the conduct of Commission meetings and recording of minutes also seems to have put some officials in an uncomfortable situation.

We believe that such active concern is precisely what should be expected from a member of a body of national importance like the UGC as this is what strengthens the working of such bodies. We are shocked that the Ministry, which, in a healthy democracy, should have given due importance to the matters raised, and should have encouraged such vigilant participation, has instead initiated the process of removing the member. Such a measure sends a strong message of intolerance towards all members who consider it their duty to express their opinions and threatens to severely erode the ethos of informed debate and fearless participation. It demonstrates an utter disregard for the autonomy vested in the institution of the UGC without which it cannot be expected to play its role as a regulatory body effectively.

We, the undersigned, therefore urge you to take immediate steps to withdraw the show-cause notice issued to Prof. Yogendra Yadav.