July 19, 2014


[The rape has raised questions about the safety of India’s schoolchildren and spurred nationwide outrage over rampant sexual violence against girls and women. The school has refused to take responsibility for the crime.]


An angry protester points her finger towards the Bangalore police chief on Saturday, July 19 during a protest
 against alleged police inaction after a six-year-old was raped at a school, in Bangalore, India (Photo: AP)
Published in Jamaica Observer

NEW DELHI — Thousands of people angry over alleged police inaction after a 6-year-old girl was raped at her school in southern India rallied Saturday to demand that the authorities arrest those responsible for the attack.

More than 4,000 parents and relatives of children who attend the school in Bangalore, India’s technology hub, shouted slogans against the school’s administration and demanded that the police arrest those involved in the July 2 episode, which was reported only this past week.

They carried placards that read “Enough Is Enough” and “We Want Justice,” and walked more than two miles to one of Bangalore’s main police stations.

The police said the girl was assaulted when she left her classroom to go to the restroom. They said she was recovering from the attack, but did not give further details.

The rape has raised questions about the safety of India’s schoolchildren and spurred nationwide outrage over rampant sexual violence against girls and women. The school has refused to take responsibility for the crime.

Angry lawmakers discussed the attack in the State Assembly on Friday and demanded that the government of Karnataka State, of which Bangalore is the capital, punish the school principal and other administrators who allegedly tried to keep the matter quiet.

The parents have said that they will keep their children out of school until steps are in place to ensure their safety.

The police said eight members of the school’s staff had been detained for questioning. The protesters squatted outside a police station and refused to move until Bangalore’s police chief assured them the suspects would be arrested.

Official statistics say about 25,000 rapes are committed every year in India, a nation of 1.2 billion people. Activists, though, say that number is just a tiny percentage of the actual number, since victims are often pressed by family or the police to stay quiet about sexual assaults.

@ The New York Times

Prize-winning author questions position in India of 'person whose doctrine of nonviolence was based on brutal caste system'
By Jason Burke

Arundhati Roy
Arundhati Roy, the Booker prize winning author, has accused Mahatma Gandhi of discrimination and called for institutions bearing his name to be renamed.

Speaking at Kerala University in the southern Indian city of Thiruvananthapuram, Roy, 52, described the generally accepted image of Gandhi as a lie.
"It is time to unveil a few truths about a person whose doctrine of nonviolence was based on the acceptance of a most brutal social hierarchy ever known, the caste system … Do we really need to name our universities after him?" Roy said.

The caste system is thousands of years old but still defines the status of hundreds of millions of people in India. So-called untouchables, or Dalits, continue to suffer discrimination.

 The author's comments provoked immediate outrage from descendants and some scepticism from historians.

"Being outspoken is one thing but being so blase about your ignorance is quite another," said Tushar Gandhi, great-grandson of the world-renowned thinker and activist. "It's just an attempt to get publicity."
Prof Mridula Mukherjee, an expert in modern Indian history at Jawaharlal University in Delhi, said Roy's criticism was misplaced. "Gandhi devoted much of his life to fighting caste prejudice. He was a reformer not a revivalist within the Hindu religion. His effort was in keeping with his philosophy of nonviolence and bringing social transformation without creating hatred," Mukherjee said.
Roy's comments are part of a long-running historical argument over Gandhi's views on caste.
Gandhi's stance is sometimes contrasted by commentators with that of Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, a Dalit who grew up in poverty but went on to become a prominent independence leader and India's first law minister, with responsibility for much of the country's constitution. Roy recently wrote a new introduction to Ambedkar's undelivered 1936 speech, The Annihilation of Caste, in which she called Gandhi "the saint of the status quo".
Mukherjee said Gandhi and Ambedkar "represented different understandings of how to solve problems of caste oppression in India, but each was equally sincere".
The British government recently announced that a statue of Gandhi would be placed in Parliament Square.
Roy's comments come amid a series of rows over the study and representation of Indian history.
The appointment of a little-known academic to the head of a national research body has raised concerns that the new Hindu nationalist government in India may try to promote an ideological version of the country's past.
The Bharatiya Janata party (BJP), led by Narendra Modi, won a landslide victory in May, ending a decade of rule by the centre-left Congress party. When last in power, between 1998 and 2004, the BJP prompted controversy with its criticism of prominent historians and efforts to excise what ministers claimed was a Marxist or western vision from textbooks.

Prof Yellapragada Sudershan Rao took up his post as chair of the Indian Council of Historical Research last month. Rao was formerly head of history and tourism management at a little-known university.
Rao immediately caused controversy with comments criticising alleged Marxist influence on Indian historical studies and western-inspired methods of research. He also told interviewers that he believed the Hindu literary epics, the Ramayana and the Mahabharata, were historically accurate accounts of real events.
Salil Tripathi, a columnist in Mint, a local newspaper, wrote: "His appointment is troubling … because he appears to believe that history is shaped by both faith and reason. Faith matters, of course, but faith is part of a culture, it should not dictate history. Faith is about unquestioned belief; history is about facts and reality."

Romila Thapar, one of India's most respected historians, said she feared "the ICHR may now turn the clock back".
"Historical research in India is no longer limited to trying to prove that the narratives of the ancient texts were historically accurate. We are now perhaps more concerned with what they tell us about our past societies and cultures," Thapar wrote.

BJP officials have denied any intention to change the way history is taught in schools or elsewhere.
The decision in February by Penguin to stop distributing an academic work on the Hindu religion by US expert Wendy Doniger after a legal challenge from conservatives prompted particular concern among liberal writers and thinkers in India. The BJP government last week denied reports that it had destroyed thousands of files, including some related to Gandhi's assassination by a Hindu fanatic in 1948.