Showing posts with label Equality. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Equality. Show all posts

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Temple Trust retracts from appointing women, backward caste as Priests

Please refer to my earlier post titled  "Progressive Temple Trust wants women and backward caste to work as priests"

In a sudden volte-face, the temple management committee of the historic Vitthal Rukmani temple in the pilgrimage town of Pandharpur has decided to temporarily put brakes on its decision to recruit women and non-Brahmins as priests.

The temple committee, which met on Monday to announce the names of successful candidates, instead decided to seek an opinion from the state’s law and judiciary department on whether it was entitled to make such appointments.

The decision to invite applications from woman and non-Brahmin priests was taken by the temple committee in the last week of April. In response to the advertisements placed by the committee, 161 candidates including 23 women turned up for the series of interviews conducted on May 18. It was expected that the names of the successful candidates would be announced on Monday. Speaking to The Indian Express, former minister and temple committee chairman Anna Dange had earlier said the move aimed to break the hegemony of Brahmins over priesthood.

Dange, when asked about the sudden U-turn, said the Warkari community had staged protests in the temple town a few days back against the decision. “The Vitthal Rukmani temple is the nerve centre for the Warkari cult. They had questioned the rights of the temporary committee to appoint priests. So we have  asked an opinion from the law and judiciary department about it. Once the decision comes, we will go ahead with the appointments,” he said. When asked why no such opinion was sought before conducting the interviews, Dange refused to comment.

Sanjay Teli, the chief executive officer the temple, said when the matter was tabled for discussion at the meeting the committee decided to seek an opinion.

While Dange insisted that the recruitment process had been suspended temporarily, many in the temple committee, which incidentally comprises many senior leaders from NCP and Congress, said the actual reason behind the decision could be political. Senior officers associated with the committee said in view of the upcoming Assembly elections it did not want to anger the powerful Warkari community. It might be recalled that protests by the Warkaris in 2008 had led to the shutdown of Dow Chemical’s proposed plant in Pune.

Located in the Solapur district of the state, the 900-year-old temple is the nerve centre of the Warkari community. The community has presence in Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and other parts of the country.

While the community is supposed to be egalitarian, the move to open up priesthood to non-Brahmins and women, was met with strong opposition. Earlier this  year, the Supreme Court had overturned the hereditary rights of priesthood at the shrine enjoyed by the families of Badve and Utpats. For Hema Ashtekar, one of the applicants who had appeared for the interviews, the decision to halt the recruitment process is a “regressive move” and  “smacks of chauvinism”. “The protests by the Warkaris is illogical,” she said.

Source: Indian Express -  Pandharpur temple does a U-turn: No woman, non-Brahmin priests for now

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Progressive Temple Trust wants women and backward caste to work as priests

This is the face of progressive India where every one irrespective of his caste or sex can be a priest in the temples of the God - breaking age old monopoly of only Brahmins  (the upper caste Hindus).  After the Supreme Court rejected the claims of the two brahmin families after a four decade protracted battle, the temple trust has now called for applications for filing eight posts of priest from amongst  women & those from backward classes as part of inclusive mission!

Pt. Shriram Sharma Acharya - the founder of Gayatri Pariwar in 1950s had gone ahead giving gayatri deeksha to women and those from lower castes also saying that in the eyes of God every one is equal.  Today Akhil Vishwa Gayatri Pariwaar has become a movement for social inclusion.

Here goes the news:

IANS | May 11, 2014, 07.05 AM IST

SOLAPUR (Maharashtra): Here's another traditional male bastion set to crumble. With a Supreme Court prod, the renowned 900-year old Vitthoba Temple in the pilgrim town of Pandharpur will script religious history when it appoints its first women priests as also priests from the backward classes as part of an inclusive mission. 

"This is the first initiative in the country by any temple trust to break the centuries-old monopoly of the brahmans over the temple puja and other rituals. We are keen that puja and rituals should be thrown open to all castes, especially non-brahmans," Anna Dange, chairman of the Vitthal Rukmini Temple Trust (VRTT) explained to IANS. 

The VRTT advertised this week, inviting applications for eight posts of priests from all practising Hindus and women well-versed in the two-or-three special pujas for Lord Vitthoba and his consort Rukmini, besides other temple rites and rituals. 

"We shall interview the candidates May 18 and finalize the appointments which shall be purely temporary and contractual with the remuneration depending on the merits of those selected," said Dange. 

The VRTT move was prompted by a Supreme Court judgment in January in a four-decade-old litigation dismissing the claims of exclusive ancestral rights over the earnings and rituals at the temple by the Badve and Utpat families here. 

The two families had challenged the decision of the state government to take over the temple in 1968 after the recommendations of the B.D. Nadkarni Committee. 

A former cabinet minister in Maharashtra, Dange said that the apex court's verdict has already brought about a seachange in the past few months in the earnings of the temple, situated around 350 km southeast of Mumbai. 

"Earlier, the two families used to auction the daily pujas for the two presiding deities starting at Rs 7,000 ($117) for Rukmini and Rs 20,000 for Lord Vitthoba. They kept the daily earnings which were around Rs 150,000 and grew manifold on special occasions and festivals. Now, all the money is coming to the VRTT. This year, the temple income will be more than five crore rupees," Dange said. 

The VRTT has been flooded with applications and many are ready to work free as they consider it a "divine service", Dange said with a smile. The excited applicants are said to hail from OBCs, Marathas, the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and other castes. 

The temple hosts the idol of Lord Vitthoba, a local version of Lord Krishna, and his consort Rukmini, and is revered by the 150,000-strong population of the town. 

It has a unique scripture on its walls dating to 1195 on which the devotees would rub their backs to free themselves from the cycles of rebirth. 

Attracting around 30,000 devotees from Maharashtra and other parts of India every day, the temple atmosphere is festive during four annual pilgrimages when around nearly two million devotees daily throng there. 

On Navratri and Dassehra, the deities look spectacular daily with new clothes and jewellery, with lights and decorations that reflect in the serene waters of the Bhima river on whose banks the temple stands, Dange told IANS. 

Incidentally, the world-famous 200,000 dabbawalas of Mumbai are staunch devotees of Lord Vitthoba and Rukmini and they take a brief vacation for their annual "jatras" to Pandharpur. 

The dabbawalas belong to the clan of "varkaris" who walk hundreds of kilometres from different parts of the state in processions taking two-three weeks during the Hindu months of Chaitra (March-April), Ashadhi (June-July), Karthik (October-November) and Maghi (January-February). 

A trip to Pandharpur means a visit to some other famous temples in and around the town, including the Goddess Tulja Bhavani Temple, the family diety of the great Maratha warrior king Chhatrapati Shivaji; Shri Swami Samarth Temple; Lord Shri Kshetra Temple and Lord Dattatreya Temple.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Dear Friends,

Our archaic laws still exists while new ones keep coming but there is hardly an attempt to scrap or amend the old laws. This often leads to situations like this. In the instant case while a family wanted to adopt a girl child under the new child friendly legislation called Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000 but they couldn't because the archaic law on adoption named Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act came in the way.

The family had to approach the court to get the matter settled but why can't such exercise be carried out while notifying the new law that no relevant existing law is in contradiction of the law, so that a process to amend /scrap the old law could be taken then and there. Well, in the instant case, the Hon'ble Supreme court finally held that the New law will override the old provisions of Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act.

Also it is all the more important to do this in view of the paradigm shift that we see in the status of SC/ST, gays, HIV patients, the women, the disabled, the elderly and those who were not in the mainstream till now, with the introduction of new laws, signing of new international treaties, landmark judgements from the Supreme Court of India etc.

In fact, a detailed exercise is needed by the Union Ministry of Law and also by the Law Ministries in various Indian States to ensure that no existing laws/rules/practices/norms etc are in contradiction the new socio-economic and legal order based on equal rights and non-discrimination.


SC Vashishth, Advocate

To read from source click here

MUMBAI: Hindus who have always wanted to adopt a girl even though they already have a daughter can now do just that. The Hindu adoption law prohibits same gender adoptions but, in a landmark judgment this week, the Bombay High Court has thrown open the legal doors to allow Hindus adopt a child of the same gender as their existing one.

In the verdict, the HC allowed a recent petition by Mumbai-based actor couple (names withheld on request) to be legally declared as adoptive parents of a girl they had taken in as their ward over four years ago under the Juvenile Justice Act.

The couple had a two-year-old biological daughter of their own when they sought and were allowed by the court in 2005 to become guardians of a year-old destitute baby girl. Stating that courts must harmonise personal laws with secular legislation, Justice D Y Chandrachud held the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000 — a secular law enabling rehabilitation of abandoned children through adoption — would prevail over the Hindu Adoption and Maintenance Act (Hama), a personal law that has placed certain restrictions on adoption.

Justice Chandrachud took up the Pathaks’ issue seriously as it “involved the larger issue of encouraging adoption and giving an abandoned child a chance in life’’. He looked closely at adoption laws under their various avtars and at the Indian Constitution as well as the Convention on the Rights of the Child which India had ratified in 1992 before ruling that “adoption is a facet of right to life and that freedom and dignity are the foremost values of governance in civil society and freedom and dignity of the young must count above all’’.

This was the first time the court was interpreting provisions of two conflicting legal provisions on adoption; it had a 54-year-old Hindu Adoption Act and the more progressive nine-year-old Juvenile Justice Act, which introduced adoption of abandoned children and gave it a wider platform. The Hindu law places stringent conditions and prohibits adoption of a child of the same gender where an adoptive father or mother already have a child living at that time.

For instance, if the adoption is of a daughter the adoptive parent must not have a Hindu daughter or a son’s daughter living at the time of adoption. Conditions are stricter while adopting a son and adoptive parents must not have a Hindu son, a grandson or even a great-grandson alive.

The Juvenile Justice Act, a countrywide beneficial social law, came in 2000 and introduced a ‘child-friendly’ approach towards adoption “in the interest of ultimate rehabilitation of a narrow sub-class of children who are orphaned, abandoned or surrendered’’.

The HC, after hearing advocate Vishal Kanade for Pathak, held: “Right to life includes rights of parents and of individuals, women and men, who wish to adopt to give meaning to their lives on the one hand and, on the other hand, is the right of abandoned children who are in need of special care and protection."

Thursday, July 30, 2009

DoPT fails to give IAS post to Hearing Impaired Aspirant despite clearing the exam thrice!

Dear Friends,

We saw a similar fight by few others including Shri Ravi Kumar, a candidate with Low vision who cleared Civil Services exams almost thrice and was denied by DoPT because no post was identified for disabled! Even after court's verdict, the PMO had to intervene and issue a consolation that posts have been identified for the disabled.

However, this case of Shri Maniram reveals the inherent apathy and lackadaisical attitude of the Govt. of India to include people with disability in the mainstream despite clearing their exams and competition at their own merit - forget about reservations and relaxation of standards!!

Such incidents only indicate that MSJE and GOI have failed the disabled segment, the PWD Act and the UNCRPD that India signed with so much fanfare! When this Government would stop looking at Disability from a medical angle of percentages ? If the person can prepare and clear the exams at his own merit at 100% disability then what is the fun of insisting a 70% disability to be eligible for which he has been made to undergo a cochlear implant? Now none of the Govt. Hospital has facility to measure the degree of disability!

It may be relevant to mention here that Shri Maniram is already working satisfatorily in Rajasthan Administrative Service having proved his mantle there but DOPT and Central Civil Services seem to purposefully perpetrate discriminatory exclusion agaisnt those with disabilities.

Is this because the central bureaucracy doesn't want the disabled segment in its fold? Is it because the DoPT doesn't know about abilities inherent in the human diversity such as those with hearing disability ? The issue is of attitude and approach which is negative and unwelcoming to those experiencing disabilities and should be condemned.

Such practices should be discouraged in the strongest words possible as these perpetrate the age old practice of looking at disability from medical model. Why can't the assistive aids and devices with modern technology be used to provide reasonable accommodation to Maniram to facilitate him a better and congenial working atmosphere?

I think the Govt. doesn't seem to have understood the concept of reasonable accommodation and their ignorance is proving to be so dear to thousands of aspirants. The inaction on the part of Govt. deserves shame and the sector should stand up united against such discrimination.

This is a fit case where he should be appointed immediately with all benefits like seniority of service, back pay and other benefits besides compensation for the mental agony and harassment suffered.

DoPT should be penalised for failing to facilitate his appointment since 2005 despite clear cut rulings of Courts, Directives from PMO and stated legal position! Has the gentleman filed any case in the court of law seeking immediate appointment and compensation?

Warm regards

S C Vashishth, Adv

Click here to read the article from source: Govt deaf to Maniram's cry for justice

Rema Nagarajan, TNN, 26 July 2009, 05:31 am IST

He's deaf and has cleared the civil services exam three times — in 2005, 2006 and 2009. And yet, he continues to be cheated of his dream job — joining the Indian Administrative Service (IAS). The first time, Maniram Sharma was turned away by the department of personnel and training (DoPT) because there was no policy of accommodating a deaf candidate. The second time he cleared the exam, the policy bottleneck was sorted out. But with a rider — only candidates with less than 70% hearing disability qualify for the IAS provided they cleared the exam. Maniram, being 100% deaf, was not eligible for the service. But he didn't give up.

To improve his hearing, Maniram had a surgical cochlear implant, costing Rs 7.5 lakh. He appeared for the IAS again this year and achieved the highest score in the hearing-impaired category. But his medical examination categorized him as 70% disabled — just a shade higher than the qualifying disability level. The finding itself was strange. Of the 791 candidates selected this year, Maniram's score in the interview was among the top 50 (220/300). And he scored these marks in an interview that required direct interaction — an improbable feat if he were 70% disabled.

Previously, when Maniram had cleared the written exam and reached the interview stage, an LCD projector was used to put questions on a screen. That was in 2005 and 2006 when he was 100% deaf. ENT doctors in Delhi's RML Hospital, where he had his cochlear implant, have certified he has a 100% permanent hearing impairment, discounting the implant done by its own doctors which has now helped him hear.

The ENT doctors' board of Sawai Mansingh Hospital in Rajasthan, his home state, constituted to assess Maniram's hearing, has said that audiometry and other specific tests are required to assess hearing in a patient with a cochlear implant. And these were not available in the institute.

Dr J M Hans, former head of RML's ENT department, who conducted the surgery on Maniram says that the only way to measure the hearing of a person with cochlear implant is with an instrument called electrical BERA or "brainstem evoked response audiometry", which is not available in any government hospital. "The government ought to allow the test, which is available in the private sector, to be used by candidates," he says.

Dr Han's observation raises another question - if this instrument is not available in government hospitals, including RML, how did the doctors measure Maniram's hearing loss as over 70%?

Maniram is from Badangarhi, a remote village in Alwar district, which doesn't even have a school. He started losing his hearing at the age of five, becoming totally deaf by nine. His parents, both illiterate farm labourers, could do little to help. Yet, Maniram continued trudging to the nearest school, 5 km away and cleared class 10 standing fifth in the state board examination and cleared class 12 ranking seventh in the state board.

In his second year in college, he cleared the Rajasthan Public Service Commission (RPSC) examination to become a clerk-cum-typist. He studied and worked during his final year and topped the university in Political Science. He went on to clear the NET (National Eligibility Test). He then gave up his RPSC job and became a lecturer. Not satisfied with that, he became a Junior Research Fellow and completed his Ph.D in Political Science during which time he taught M Phil and MA students in Rajasthan University.

Having completed his Ph.D, Maniram got through the Rajasthan Administrative Service (RAS) and while in service he started trying for the civil services. Will his efforts be in vain?

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Recognise "sexual orientation" as a source of discrimination-asks NLS

The high court of Delhi may have decriminalised the sex between two consenting adults of same sexes and Supreme Court of the nation also may have indicated that it is in favour of the High Court's well reasoned order, the social taboos, moral brigade & attitudes in general continue to discriminate against those with different sexual orientations than the majority.

Same is the case with people with HIV status, those cured of leprosy. Social attitudes are often difficult to change. Continuous education and acceptance by the young brigade is the only solution. We see that people with different sexual orientation face discrimination at workplace too though their orientation may not be relevant to their work or productivity!

Therefore, now the National Law School has asked the Centre to recognise "sexual orientation" as a source of discrimination against which there should be statutory protection. Our constitution and central laws already provide that there could be no discrimination on the grounds of religion, sex, caste, language, disability, descent, place of birth, residence and race among others. The Persons with Disabilities Act already covers such a protection that there could be no discrimination on the grounds of disability in any matter - be it education, employement, housing or otherwise.

Besides Sexual orientation, the EOC is also looking at adding pregnancy, gender identity, occupation, skin colour, political opinion and age also the grounds of discrimination!

I hope such a move in form of an enactment will give strength to the equality among all citizens of this country including those with diversities, though a large section of our political class and soceity is still divided ! Can we let the life prevail?


SC Vashishth

Here is the news from Time of India, To read from source- Click here

NEW DELHI: The move towards legitimising "gay rights" seems to be getting stronger by the day.

After the Delhi High Court order decriminalising homosexuality, the National Law School has asked the Centre to recognise "sexual orientation" as a source of discrimination against which there should be statutory protection.

The law school wants the Centre to put "sexual orientation" in the list of `grounds of discrimination' requiring safeguard in the Equal Opportunities Commission. S Japhet, director of Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy in the Bangalore school, told TOI, "There have been studies to show that sexual orientation of gays leads to discrimination in employment."

The proposed EOC is an ambitious move to redress the discrimination against social groups in employment, education and housing. These three domains are most plagued by prejudices, be it based on religion, caste or race. It is to be seen if the Centre obliges the law school by moving on its request. An explicit step to bar discrimination on a person's "sexual orientation" will be a big step in legitimising gay rights. The EOC, in the nascent stage of evolution, is likely to be empowered to take a complaint from a group to question the private and public enterprises in question. It would mean that any move to keep gays out of a workplace or a housing colony or an educational institution would invite the intervention of the`discrimination watchdog'.

The N R Madhava Menon committee, which drew up the details of EOC, shortlisted grounds on which discrimination should be prohibited. It includes prejudices based on religion, sex, caste, language, disability, descent, place of birth, residence and race among others. While the committee has said that the list could be kept open to accommodate more grounds in future, the law school has asked minority affairs ministry to include "sexual orientation, pregnancy, gender identity, occupation, skin colour, political opinion and age" in the purview of EOC. Besides `sexual orientation', the law school has also asked the Centre to list a bar on certain "food preferences" as a form of discrimination. It said, "Discrimination based on food preference, when it has a disproportionate impact on a deprived group, should be expressly provided as an instance of indirect discrimination." Sources said the demand from the reknowned institution will test the Centre on branding these contentious issues as forms of discrimination given the divided political opinion. Its acceptance would be tantamount to forcing organisations against "gays" into accepting them.