Tamil Nadu State Commission for Scheduled castes and Scheduled Tribes took suo motu cognisance of reports in media on labelling of bicycles which were distributed free of cost to students by the DMK government on caste basis in Krishnagiri district.
The district school education department is facing flak over the issue. In an event held at the Government Higher Secondary School for Girls in Thogarapalli in Mathur near Pochampalli recently bicycles that were to be distributed to students, were lined up with caste markings like BC. MBC, SC, written in chalk for everyone to see. The cycles labelled “SC” which were relatively few in number, were parked at the tail-end of the line indicating its social order. Students were standing behind them as per their caste. DMK Bargur MLA D. Mathiazhagan, distributed the cycles to the students. A Madurai based social activist told an English Daily “when bicycles for students are labelled like this, they are automatically referred to as SC cycle, BC Cycle and MBC cycle. Won’t that language more discrimination and engender untouchability? This is clear segregation, similar to the two-tumbler system where you have an SC tumbler (glass tea cup) BC tumbler”.
Explaining the rationale behind this, Chief Educational Officer K P Maheswarai said the cycles were provided by various departments like BC welfare and Adi Dravidar Welfare) implying that the caste markers were merely an account of their inventory.
Barely a week ago, School education minister Anbil Mahesh Poyyamozhi, Dharmapuri MP Senthilkumar said the prevalence of caste pride and identification among students in the western region. It affects co-mingling of students, defeating the goal of social justice and equality and asked the schools to focus avoid such tendency among students.
After media reports, the TN SC/ ST commission, has now directed the CEO of the district to submit a detailed report. Chairperson of the commission justice PR Shivakumar said in a statement “Such act will create a divide among the students on caste lies. Hence, the commission has decided to take a suo motu action in connection with the case and asked the CEO to submit a report regarding the incident”.
Chief Minister MK Stalin in February this year wrote to 37 leaders of various State and national parties, including AICC president Sonia Gandhi and chief ministers of several States, and invited them to nominate representatives to establish the All India Federation for Social Justice. He said “India’s unique, diverse, multi-cultural federation is under threat from bigotry and religious hegemony. These forces can only be fought if all who believe in equality, self-respect and social justice unite.”
Political commentator Jaikrishnan said “It is nothing new in DMK government where members from the SC/ST community are not allowed to share dais, sit in front of them. Local body elected members are denied the right to hoist the tricolor national flag during independence days. In council meeting, they are forced to sit on floors or at a corner in a chair. During the poll campaign a senior leader was not allowed to sit on the dais. Ministers Raja Kannappan who provided Thol. Thirumavalavan, a plastic chair to sit, while he was sitting a cushioned sofa. Another upper caste minister Sathur KKSSR Ramachandran did not show the courtesy to his party MP and others while he was sitting legs crossed. He allegedly kept them waiting for more than three hours before allowing them inside his home. He did not accept shawl from them. Former Union Minister Dayanidhi Maran after then Chief Secretary told media “They treated us like third-class people. What are we? Depressed class people?)”. NCSC sent shot of a notice to him. Former RS member Alandur Bharathi said “I am openly telling you not even one Harijan has become a High Court Judge in Northern states especially in Madhya Pradesh. But in Tamil Nadu when Kalaignar (Karunanidhi) came to power, he got Varadharajan appointed as a High Court Judge. “Afterwards, if 7-8 people belonging to Adi Dravidar Community became judges, it was because of the alms of the Dravidian movement…”
“In a meeting senior DMK Minister Durai Murugan proudly recalled his encounter with EV Ramaswmy naicker. “ when I met Periyar ( who was labelled one who fought for a casteless society a social reformer),he asked my name, native and caste. He would ask the caste and pass comments of the people he comes across”. Another minister K Ponmudi, in a public meeting, asked a woman “are you from that community. We can cite umpteen examples”, he pointed out.
Dravidian parties and the Dravidian model is high on rhetoric concerning social justice and equality but it’s failing miserably on the ground.