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Showing posts from August, 2016

Land allocation to Dalits: A feasible option to end oppression?

A major plank of young Jignesh Mevani, widely projected as the new Dalit icon of Gujarat, is that the state government should provide five acres of land to each Dalit family, and it should part of the solution to rehabilitate those doing the despicable job of manually scavenging of dead cattle. The view apparently stems from the understanding that agriculture is a respectable profession, and can certainly provide a good livelihood option. Mevani has threatened, in case five acres land is not offered by September 15, he would launch a “rail roko” agitation.
Trained as a lawyer under late Mukul Sinha, a well-known Gujarat High Court advocate who shot into prominence for his tough counter-questions to those who appeared before the Nanavati-Shah Commission of inquiry into Gujarat riots, Mevani’s “passion” for land is not new. It existed five years ago, too, when I first met him in the Times of India office in Gandhinagar. He had told me how most of the land, which had been rendered surplus…

Why the pledge to give up scavenging dead cattle may face roadblock

The year was 1993. I had just joined the Times of India, Ahmedabad. With very little knowledge of Gujarat then, as part of my frantic effort to know the state, its people, culture, society and politics, I would meet as many people as I could –experts, activists, politicians, others. One person whom I would often visit was Achyut Yagnik, considered then – as now –the main contact point for journalists landing up in Ahmedabad. As friend, philosopher and guide, Yagnik would also help researchers, Indian and foreign, in every possible way, sending them to Gujarat’s different parts to interact with knowledgeable individuals.
One such researcher was Shalini Randeria. An ethnic Gujarati settled in Germany, Prof Randeria is currently rector of the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna. There was a special reason why I could connect myself with her –we were in the same class in Sardar Patel Vidyalaya, Delhi, in 1960s. Yagnik handed me over a photocopy of her PhD thesis which she had just compl…

Rupani is a better choice as Gujarat CM, but is that enough?

You can be a frank and an approachable leader, but is that enough for you to solve social issues which bog society? Soon after Vijay Rupani became Gujarat chief minister on August 5 evening, a top Sachivalaya insider, whom I have known for more than a decade, phoned me up to know what people thought of “the new incumbent”. Hesitant, I told him that he knew Rupani for quite some time, in fact ever since Rupani was in the Rajkot Municipal Corporation, hence he should know better. Refusing to be named, he didn’t mince words, “Rupani is frank, approachable, dynamic”, adding, “It has always been a boon to work with him.”
I have known Rupani a little bit, though certainly not as much as this insider, who keeps a close tab of what’s goings on in the nerve centre of Gujarat politics. Without any doubt, Rupani is “approachable”. Off and on, while covering Sachivalaya, I would consult him about political goings on around Modi, and though he was frank and approachable, he never crossed the BJP’s …