Branded by Law

Branded by Law - FOREWORD Prejudice is a universal phenomenon Individuals are prejudiced against other individuals and social groups are prejudiced

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Unformatted text preview: FOREWORD Prejudice is a universal phenomenon. Individuals are prejudiced against other individuals, and social groups are prejudiced against other social groups. But invariably, the marginal and the poor are at the receiving end of this social relationship. And ironically enough, their marginality and deprivation are caused, among many other things, by cultural, racial, linguistic or religious discrimination. But it is not so inevitable and often that social prejudice gets institutionalized through legal interventions. In other words, if prejudice is a common human instinct, state-sponsored prejudice can spell disaster for humanity. Fascism is one form of it. The ‘criminalizarion’ of a large number of communities is anotheri In India, this criminalization of communities is credited by historians to British colonial rule. It is indeed true that the colonial administration in India displayed its profound ignorance of India’s social structure and cultural institutions by formulating a series of Criminal Tribes Acts, beginning xw Foreword with the Crimin Tribes Art of l87’l, and turned a large number of nomadic communities and artists into “born criminals’. But it is even more true that independent India has not been able to free these victims of history from the stigma of criminality attached to them. Their persecution continues, and indeed has worsened, through legislation such as the Habitual Offenders Act (HOA) and the l’retr'ention of Anti Social Activin Act (I’ASA), the very nature of the police training and, more importantly, thanks to the general indifference and distrust of citiyens towards them. Their denotification following Independence is a sad mockery of the principles of liberty and equality enshrined in India’s constitution. Dilip D'Souza has lucidly brought out the story of the prejudice resulting in the initial notification of these dcnotified tribes (DN’l‘s) and their plight following the denotification. His account weaves together two narratives. combining schematic historical recounting and powerful personal encounters with the DNTs. Apart from a few scholarly accounts and a welter of official documents such as legal texts, reports and petitions, there are very few readable works in this area of India’s social history. Dilip D’Souza’s work, which is a cumulative outcome of his two— year long quest for understanding the issue, fulfils that long felt need. I was present as one of the main speakers during the Phaltan meeting which the author describes as his first exposure to the issue. Since then I have read many of his articles on denotified communities with admiration for their keen observation, and have occasionally published his pieces in Budban. lhave been an active participant in some of the recent historical events discussed by D‘Souza. Therefore, it is only natural that 1 should have a deep sense of satisfaction to see this present work on one of India’s Foreword xv most pressing social issues. I am sure that what will strike the reader, as the author’s original contribution, as it does me, is his moral commitment as a responsible citizen. The bottom line of D’Souza’s depiction of the history and the sociology of the DNTs is the conviction that the only weapon to fight prejudice is one’s solitary sense of social responsibility. I ardently hope that this work will draw fresh attention to these utterly dchumanised communities of India, coldly stored in our statute books and our consciousness as ‘former criminal tribes’. Secretary G.N. Devy Denotified é“ Nomadic Tribes Rights Action Group (DNT-RAG) Baroda xxiv introduction A 50 when I started Writing this book, I decided: no footnotes. All quotes in this book are from articles and books I list in my bibliography. And a word about the use of the term ‘tribe’. I am aware that in academic and other circles, there is a growing sense that this is an inappropriate word, especially for the communities I describe in this hook. Nevertheless, with these very communities, the word is in such widespread use—dcnotified ‘tribes’, ‘crirninal tribes’—that it would have been somewhat stilted if I had studiously avoided using it. Still, the word ‘Community’ is certainly more appropriate. I INDIA’s DENOTIFIED TRIBES: STILL CRIMINAL AFTER ALL THESE YEARS? Lieutenant General Sir George MacMunn saw, or thought he had seen, a great deal of the seamier side of India during his tour of duty here. For, in 1932, this officer of the British Army saw fit to publish a book called The Underworld of India. In this not-quite—scholarly, too often laughable, treatise, MacMunn rambles at length about all that he found dark and dreaded in India. In particular, he has a chapter titled ‘Criminal Tribes and Classes’. Of India’s criminal tribes, MacMunn writes: ‘[T]hey are absolutely the scum, the flotsam and jetsam of Indian life, of no more regard than the beasts of the field.’ This sentence made me sit up. How often do you find a set of people described as colourfully as this, and all in a single sentence? 2 Branded by Low Sprinkled through the rest of the chapter are several other references to such tribes, each about as derogatory. The Chantichors (‘bundle—stealers’) are all ‘feckless and unstable’ creatures. Harnis have a ‘gift for humbugging the world’. Ramoshis were employed by the British as watchmen, observes MacMunn, but a Ramoshi watchman ‘is always an incorrigible pander, being prepared to produce ladies of the flimsiest virtue at the shortest notice’. Vanjari women are ‘bright and comely [with] well-moulded breasts’ and are ‘adept no doubt in venery’. In fact, MacMunfi unfailingly comments on the women of nearly every tribe he mentions. These ladies are invariably ‘comely’, vet ‘hopelessly immoral’. MacMunn also has an astonishing tendency to refer to women as ‘baggages’, but I’ll let that pass. Read nearly seventy years later, the lieutenant general’s language is, to be kind, quaint at best. It is hard to imagine a writer today describing whole communities using such words, with the contempt he clearly feels. But that indeed is how criminal tribes were viewed in colonial India. MacMunn only shared that view. In 1871, the British passed the Criminal Tribes Act (hereinafter CT Act). It notified about 150 tribes throughout India as criminal, giving the police wide powers to arrest their members and monitor their movements. In its effect, this was a very simple law, far simpler than others that offered elaborate definitions of arcane crimes. ‘Under this Act, just being born into one of those 150 tribes defined you as criminal. You exist. the Act said to members of these tribes, thus you are criminal. Nor was this seen as particularly odd. There was even a notion that in caste-ridden India it was just the way things were meant to be. As T.V. Stephens. a British official of the time, said while introducing the Bill that lndio's Denotified Tribes 3 became the Act: ‘[I’Jeople from time immemorial have been pursuing the caste system defined job-positions: weaving, carpentry and such were hereditary jobs. 50 there must have been hereditary criminals also who pursued their forefathers’ profession.’ The British left in 1947. It took independent India five years, till 1952, to repeal the Criminal Tribes Act. This repeal meant that the 150 tribes were no longer to be called ‘criminal’. Notified in 1871, they were now ‘denotified’, and that is what they are officially called today. As often happens, that term has in its turn acquired derogatory connotations. And, in any case, even half a century later, they are still routinely called criminal and perceived to be so, for colonial attitudes die hard. Here’s a typical example. A report about a series of robberies by Pardhis—one of the denotified tribes—in Madhya l’radesh tells us that they are ‘identified as having criminal antecedents’, that they are ‘listed as [a] criminal ethnic group’. The Chief Minister of MP, Digvijay Singh, is quoted complaining that his state’s projects to provide these people with education did not have any impact on their criminal instincts’ (The Telegraph, 31 July 1998). Thus even in 1998, the highest elected official in a state can refer to the ‘criminal instincts’ of Pardhis. In 1998, a journalist writes easily of the ‘criminal antecedents’ of these people, parroting the lie that they are ‘listed as [a] criminal ethnic group’. Given this ease fifty years after the Act was repealed, there seems little hope that such tribes will ever be seen as ordinary Indians. Sure enough, nearly everyone I have spoken to about the Pardhis—policemen, industrialists, students. professors, villagers—assumes that they have a propensity for crime. That assumed propensity is the starting point for discussion. Not that members of such tribes do not indulge in 4 Branded by Low crime. Some do, and their crimes range from stealing pomegranates from fields to burglaries in which people are murdered. A retired police constable in Maliarashtra’s Satara district once showed me several lists of Pardhi tolis, gangs centred on one family, that wander the district committing crimes. He knew the particular methods of each toli, what their beats were. I found several of those names on the ‘wanted’ board in the police station in Phaltan, a large town in the district. \‘Vithout doubt, there are Pardhis who commit crimes. But there are contexts to such crime, reasons for it. As many others have, the anthropologist Stephen Fuchs explains what has happened to the ex-‘criminal’ tribes: ‘[Slince foodgathering and hunting in the jungle, in the traditional manner, is [now] often impossible, they [forage] in the fields, villages and towns. . . . They are forced by the prevailing adverse circumstances to practise subsistence thieving.’ If there are Pardhis who commit crimes, at least part of the blame lies in the fact that life ‘in the traditional manner’ is no longer an option. Part of the blame also lies with societal attitudes that leave them no choice. Even when the traditional methods were open to them, their wandering ways always attracted suspicion. And time and again, I have met Pardhis who tell me local schools do not allow their children to attend classes. If they do manage to stay in school and graduate, jobs are hard to get. After a meeting near Phaltan where several speakers urged Pardhis to educate their children, and especially their girls, one woman approached me and pointed to her grown daughter. ‘I struggled so she could graduate from school,’ she said to me. ‘But now nobody will give her a job because she is a Pardhi. What’s the use of all this talk of education.“ lndio’s Denoiified Tribes 5 an Chandavarkar, a historian at Cambridge Universitv, has an intriguing explanation of the phenomenon of criminal tribes. He argues that the Criminal Tribes Act was part of an entire model of how law and order wasdto be preserved in colonial India. To the British, he says, In 'ia e seemed a hair-raisingly anarchic and volatile place. Simply keeping public order was hartl'work. Tensmns were entirely different from anything the British had known e. Strife and conflict were everywhere in this valslt t a . Rajnaray must hav at hom ' I I land. There was little hope of bemg able to contain 1 As Chandavarkar sees it, a strategy evolved, whether limited resources and targets. This was consciously or not: concentrate Dhe efforts of the police on selected, visible, one way, perhaps even the only way, to give the appearance public peace effectively. And these particular of keeping _ y r tribes became such targets. Other crime went on anyway, often even unpunished. But the colonial police deliberately highlighted their action against these 'tribes,‘ Lismg it to claim a record of acting resolutely against criminals. Yes, crimes happen all across society. But criminal tribes soak up much police attention. By the end of the 19th century, Chandavarkar tells us, ‘criminalr‘tribes‘ were a potent threat to social order‘. harly in the these ‘flotsam and jetsam of Indian life a threat to the social order. 50 scarcely . . . let century, remain about as much of I ~ .‘ > why does the label—that they are criminal—stick. 2 FIRST ENCOUNTERS Somebody once described to me what it was like when a group of Pardhis passed his farm home. ‘They kind of boil down the road,’ he said. ‘There’s this constant noise, befiause they’re always fighting over something or the ot er.’ Even as much as I’ve got to know and like several Pardhis, to sympathize with their situation, to feel that I would like to do something about it, that word ‘boil’ has stuck in my mind. Because there’s some kind of truth in it Watch a pot on the boil, then watch Pardhis wander down the road, and you’ll know What it means: non—stop bubbling arguing, shouting, chattering. ’ I heard this description long after the first time I met a number of Pardhis all in one place. But when I think back, I know that I experienced the same sensation even if First Encounters 7 the word itself did not occur to me. That first encounter was in a large auditorium in the town of Phaltan, a public meeting of Patdhis. An interminable series of exhortatory speeches drifted forth from the Stage. I sat right at the back and marvelled at the utter chaos around me. Babies were screaming everywhere; children ran up and down the aisles; women periodically gathered their particular sets of kids and wandered out of the hall or back into the hall; little groups conducted impromptu discussions, and especially quarrels, all around me. In fact, everywhere I looked, I could see heated arguments. Naturally, nobody was listening to the speakers. Not even the others on stage. Why, I remember asking myself, do they fight so much? No doubt other gatherings are similarly raucous. But there was a quality to this Pardhi disorder that I had never seen. Perhaps it was the ease with which quarrels seemed to bubble up and then fizzle out, the protagonists and their babies dispersing to find fresh air, or fresh quarrels. And yet the disorder was almost refreshing. From the bits 1 could hear from time to time, 1 completely agreed with the speakers. They spoke of injustice, their plight, getting angry and standing up for your rights. But even when filled with such ringing words, we all know what speeches are like. Long, platitude-filled and rarely worth close attention. I was almost thankful that the Pardhis in the hall knew this truth too. I also knew that I could not have sat through the hours in that hall had they all been listening raptly to the speakers. No, they behaved just as they might have any time more than a few Pardhis gather in one place. They boiled. Earlier, before the speeches, I had wandered through the crowd, sitting down randomly to hear the stories people had to tell. Devastating stories. Like Limhu Jayaram Bhosle’s. She is a woman I described in my notes as: ‘an 8 Branded by Law elegant yet resigned face, with a gentle smile’. This elegant, yet resigned, lady told me a tale that made my flesh crawl. \When she was pregnant some years ago, she developed a womanly yearning for pomegranates. As every husband will verify, pregnant wives develop cravings and you long to satisfy them. Unable to afford pomegranates, Limbu’s husband went to the local zamindar’s orchard to try to bring her a few. He had plucked them off the trees when the zamindar’s men caught sight of him. They chased him. They threw stones at him. He fell. They went on stoning him. Tears ran down her cheeks as Linibu told me of the end of her husband: ‘Finally, they took a big stone and threw it onto his head. His brains fell out. They crushed his head the way we crush onions to eat.’ For a while, I sat there stunned. The racket all around faded into the background. All I was aware of was this Pardhi woman in front of me—with tears in her eyes that dripped off her jawline, her back erect, her gaze steady. This woman, whose husband was murdered because he tried to pluck a few pomegranates off a tree. And they call , Pardhis criminals, I remember thinking to myself. As I listened to Limbu speak through her tears, two letters addressed to the chief minister appeared in my lap. One, from a woman, was in scrawled, unintelligible Marathi. It was some kind of appeal she was going to send to the CM. My Marathi is not the best, but even I could see that nobody~not the CM, not anybody—would be able to read this sheet of paper. I could read the word mule/iyamantri (‘chief minister’) and little else. And inexplicably, it had a two rupee ‘court fee’ stamp stuck on it. Why was it there? When I asked, she didn’t seem to know. This was no official court document that needed a fee paid to the authorities, just a letter. Clearly somebody had told her that something as weighty as this—it was First Encounters 9 going to the CM after alll—just had to have a weighty- looking stamp stuck on it. Having struggled to read it, I looked up in bewilderment. The lady was beaming at me. She took the sheet delicately from my hand and, still beaming, vanished into the crowd. She seemed thrilled that somebody had looked at her letter, paid attention to it. This man from the big city read it! And saw the stamp! I watched her go, feeling strangely crushed. The second letter was typewritten, so more readable. It was signed by one Bharat Shiva Kale, who thrust it into my hands, ‘The police have heaped injustices on us,’ he bad “They beat us whenever they want. Our children written, - . . My request to you is to make the cannot go to school. . injustices done to me go far away.’ What was I to make of an appeal that ‘requests’ that injustices be dispatched ‘far away’? How near and constant must such injustices be? Would I ever get a real idea? Would the CM? What would come of these pathetic letters? ‘ Kale took back his letter and strolled off. Looking after him, sunk further in depression, I realized that l was conscious once more of the noise, the constant Parth hubbub. Linibu Jayararn Bhosle still sat in front of me, a small smile acknowledging that my attention had returned to her. Then I remembered the rest of her story. If Jayaram stole pomegranates once, his bereaved family was later accused of stealing potatoes and onions. Even worse, they had been too close to the local temple when they had eaten some meat at an evening meal. 50, in April 1998, the accusers—villagers of Vithalwadi where Limbu and the family lived—~decided to teach them the lesson that smashing Jayaram’s head apparently had not. They burned the Bhosle’s little but to the ground. They attacked the family with sticks and swords. In that assault, Limbu s 30 Branded by Law brother Saliya got a nasty head wound. His 14-year-old son, Dhanaji, had his thumb nearly sliced off. His daughter, I’ooja, had the right side of her head cracked open; in a photograph she showed me that was taken the day after the assault, blood flows over her cheek like some riverine delta. The price, I reflected for the first time in many, of being a DNT. , . \X’e steal a fruit or a few ears of wheat, we are called criminal,’ some l’ardhis gathered around Limbu said to me. i . lNow tell us: What do you have to say about Harshad Melita, who stole millions of rupees but is a free and respected man today?’ I had nothing to Say. But it struck me then. Of course Jayaram Bhole was up to criminal activity He was stealing pomegranates. Can’t get much more criminal than that. Naturally that‘s ground enough to brand all Pardhis criminal; even congenitally criminal. For they are born that way, aren’t they? They must pay the price for that, mustn’t they? 50 what’s Harshad Mehta and his apparently misbegotten millions got to do with anything? Thus ended my first ever meeting with the I’ardhis. Brooding over those letters, Limbu Bhosle‘s tear-streaked face swimming in and out of my mind, I marvelled at the thought that just 24 hours earlier I had not even reallv heard of Pardhis. Or, for that matter, of this whole phenomenon of onceecriminal tribes. It’s one of those intriguing, maddening, and yet somehow fascinating things about India: however long you live here, however Well you think you know what happens here, there is always something else. Some stone under which you have not looked. Some practice you have never known, a community you have never heard of, an issue you have never grappled First Encounters H with. In close to forty years, the word ‘Pardhi’ had remained outside my consciousness, and I consider myself a relatively well-read, well—informed Indian. How many others are there in my country to whom l’ardhis are entirely unknown? And now, after this meeting, I felt an urgent need to know more about the Pardhis, about other denotified tribes. I came home from that trip convinced that the situation of DNTs was, in many ways, a microcosm of the situation of India as a whole. I was also convinced that it had a lot to do with that other consuming interest, prejudice. Let me explain. There are two ways, it seems to me, to live with certain realities that India throws in your face daily. One is to simply ignore them; to pretend they are actually some fairy tale not worth taking seriously, The other is to see them and weep; to wonder every day at the kind of society we have built and continue to build. Whether you call them the poor, or the deprived, or the lower castes, or the oppressed—whatever the label—there are these two options available to you. Ignore or agonize? \X’hichever option you go with, you’re up against a great power these people exert: they define India to the world. Now we may like to think we are a nuclear power, that we produce rockets and missiles and fancy cars and flavoured potato chips. But at the hack of our minds we all know the truth: If the world notices us at all, it sees India first and always as a desperately poor nation. A nation whose continuing unwillingness to address the problems of its poor is perhaps its most striking feature. In fact, that enormous unwillingness even raises the question of whether we Indians are ourselves fully aware of the poor in India. Yes, perhaps we would rather they remained out of sight. And these poor pay in innumerable ways just for being poor. They get no justice, they are preyed on by corrupt 12 Branded by Low vultures in the guise of bureaucrats, they are disproportionately the victims of police beatings. \‘Vhat's more, privileged Indians—people like you and me—~turn collectively away from these things. Most of us have chosen to ignore the condition of the poor. It may, we think, be the only way to live with them. I’ardhis and other DNTs are used to this. because they are overwhelmingly poor too. It is in that sense that they are a microcosm of India as a whole. If India presents a largely poor face to the world, DNTs are an intrinsic part of that face. Visit a DNT settlement and you will see how much of India still lives~—in shacks, without sanitation, with no drinking water or health care. Yet, that in itself does not say much about DNTs, and this is where it seems to me that prejudices about DNTS begin playing a part. Stereotypes about poverty have some roots in our general indifference to the way the poor live. Which explains the downright reprehensible attitudes to, and ideas about, the poor that you find among the better- off. But which is bad news for DNTs, because middle— and upper—class India is even less aware of the plight of DNTs— indeed, of their very existence—than it is of the poor in general. Of that last assertion, I offer as a case in point myself, before meeting Linibu Jayaram Bhosle and her partners in . . . I almost said crime. The prejudices against DNTs come from elsewhere too, for when people do know about them, they retain a definite sense that such tribes are criminals who deserve no better than to be treated as such. ‘No one wants to ‘hear about the Pardhis,‘ someone wrote to me after one of my articles about them, ‘as they [are] condemned as criminals.’ Someone else actually complained: ‘I do not know much about the Pardhis except for the fact that they have a reputation for being dishonest. [You] are trying to make us First Encounters 13 all feel guilty [that] we consider a whole tribe as a tribe of robbers!’ When they are branded criminal, when “no one wants to hear about them’, when ‘considerfingl a whole tribe as a tribe of robbers’ must not be cause for guilt, it becomes easv to attribute all kinds of undesirable qualities to DNTs. Qualities, that is, apart from the assumed criminality. This explains the words a local police officer used after that meeting in I’haltan. quoted by one of my ‘ ]ournalist colleagues in her report: ‘lWithl some exceptions, most Pardhis are lazy, shiftless people.’ And since they are, they must deserve what they get. ‘It’s OK if they are beaten,’ still another reaction to my articles proclaimed, for it ‘must have been their fault’. This entire edifice of prejudice and attitude is the burden DNTs carry every day. I mentioned my name earlier, and wrote about the comments and impressions it generates. But at least it hasn’t, so far, got me picked up by the police on mere suspicion. It hasn’t brought my neighbours barging into my home to assault me with swords and rods. It hasn‘t got me beaten to death in a dingy police station back room. Yet, those are real prospects DNTs face all the time, every single day, because they are forever branded as criminal. And because they are, nobody will stand up for them. Nobody thinks it is strange that such things happen to them. In fact, nobody even wants to know that there are such people. And surely this is prejudice’s heaviest burden, its direst consequence: that the world can ignore you, can pretend you don’t even exist. No doubt there are some DNTS who are criminals. But there are circumstances that explain their behavtour and 14 Branded by Low throw some light on this phenomenon of once—‘criminal’ tribes. Without understanding those circumstances, the charge of criminality by itself is unfair, unreasonable and meaningless. Now I’m sure every criminal can claim context and circumstance as mitigating factors for his crime, and I’m just as sure we cannot accept such claims simply because they are made. In the case of DNTs, however, it is not merely a charge against one man. It is the labeling of entire communities. And for that reason we should give deep thought to such labeling. . I say that bravely7 but I also know that such thought is never common, hardly likely. Take what the German anthropologist Stephen Fuchs wrote in the early 19705: [A] number of [such tribes] are passionately nomadic, and since foodgathering and hunting in the jungle, in the traditional manner, is often impossible, they have switched over to the rather dangerous, but still exciting life of ‘foraging’ in the fields, villages and towns This has gained them a bad reputation and in the British times some of them were branded as ‘criminal castes’ and held under close police supervision. Since Independence this stigma has been taken from them, but the watch over them by the police has not much relaxed... They are forced by the prevailing adverse circumstances to practise subsistence thieving. One, the hunting and gathering that sustained them in the past is no longer an option. Forests are disappearing. Or a perverse administration decides suddenly that exploiting forests is now illegal except when done with the sanction of that administration. 50 not only are these tribes ordinarily viewed as criminal, even the things they always did to earn a living are now crimes. 1 First Encounters 15 Two, with forest resources lost to them, with few other skills that they can use, with poverty a gnawing daily reality, there is indeed pressure to steal. Thus Jayaram Bhosle sought to bring his pregnant wife the pomegranate she craved from a zamindar’s orchard. So it is that Pardhis, known to thieve from fields, are hired by farmers to guard the same fields, the reason being that ‘you need one thief to catch another". And so it is that there are Pardhi gangs that commit far more serious crimes than petty thieving. Three, stigma already in place, DNTs are shunned by the rest of society. Their children are often unwelcome in village schools; their youth cannot find jobs; their little communities must nearly always live beyond village limits, in isolated clusters of huts. And the circle finds completion. DNTs are labeled criminal. Because they are, they are shunned. Increasingly unable to follow their traditional occupations, some of them resort to crime. They are all seen as criminal. The stigma gets reinforced. With the stigma comes beatings and slashings, as the Bhosle family experienced. Worse still, too often the police show no particular interest in punishing the heaters and Slashers. After the Bhosles were assaulted, the police in Lonand, the nearest police station, refused to even register a complaint against the assaulters. For ten days, they steadily refused. It took an appeal to writer and activist Laxman Rao Gaikwad to finally breach that refusal. A complaint was filed, though nobody knows what has come of it. Some weeks after meeting Limth and the other Pardhis in Phaltan, my thoughts still in some turmoil, i spent a morning with Laxman Rao Gaikwad. He had actually 16 Branded by Low been on that trip to I’haltan, but I hadn’t managed to speak to him much then. Gaikwad is best known for his autobiography Urbalya ("The I’ickpocket’, though the translated book is called The Branded), which won the Sahitya Akadcmi prize in 1988. A dapper 42-year-old and a fiery speaker, Gaikwad is also a fund of irreverent stories and a fount of passion and enthusiasm about DNT causes. Himself a DNT, he is now part and soul of the Denotified and Nomadic Tribes Rights Action Group (DNT-RAG), an organization formed in March 1998 to fight DNT battles around the country. That morning he spoke to me at length and thoughtfully about DNTS; Pardhis in particular. He made no attempt to deny strains of criminality among them. But he also spoke of the ‘adverse circumstances’ Fuchs refers to: their traditional habitats gone; birds and animals they used to hunt for a living harder to find by the day; forced to migrate to the cities to find jobs as unskilled labourers, for they rarely have employable skills. Once in the cities, they are the object of derision from hostile urbanites. They remain the favoured targets of policemen when crimes are committed. Worst of all, Gaikwad pointed out, there is Very little educated leadership—very little education, in fact—among the Pardhis. That means Pardhis have few models to aspire to; little chance at guidance towards demanding their rights or finding suitable work. ‘Though if a Pardhi does manage to find work,’ Gaikwad said, ‘he does well at it.’ In the coloured climate they live, managing to find work does not come easily. And given the climate they live in, those letters I had read in Phaltan made some sense. Appeals to the chief minister, superfluous two-rupee court fee stamp and all, made some sense. After all, if everybody else writes letters, they can too. If Pardhis are scorned in First Encounters 17 at least in this they are anonymous and therefore equal. Cynic about ministers that I am, I had no illusions about the fate of those letters. But I could see that the hope they represented knew no stereotgfie,l no prejudice. just as much as I could, socould a Par b Eng for an end to injustice, for better times, for a rig ter future for his children. And since nobody else was particularly bothered, why not ask the chief minister to ke the injustices done to me go far away? ‘ Then again, if I was building fancy theories in the allll', there was Laxman Gaikwad to tell me what was tea going on. ‘A country that looks after all its ‘people w1 advance,’ said Gaikwad as I got up to leave. But we are , , not that way, so we won t. most other respects, ‘ma ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/10/2010 for the course ENG 40 taught by Professor Cook during the Fall '09 term at Georgetown KY.

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Branded by Law - FOREWORD Prejudice is a universal phenomenon Individuals are prejudiced against other individuals and social groups are prejudiced

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