Dalit Female Cook and Mid-day Meal Scheme


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It is not only about Mid-day meal scheme almost all schemes running in Uttar Pradesh deals on the basic of caste. The root cause of social injustice of caste system in the state is a rapid growing phenomenon of villages. At present anti-Dalit moment is going on in entire state with regard to mid day meal scheme, specially.  Here, we are looking this scheme in Dalit perspective and trying to find out the crux of the problem.

It is another issue to discuss about distribution of mid day meal in primary school and quality of meal. We are talking about Dalit cook in this particular scheme and socio- political conflict at village level. Generally, Dalit females are appointed on cook post by the village Gram Shiksha Samiti and Gram Pradhan.

It is empowering Dalit women to provide livelihood opportunity by giving Cooks job at village level primary school. The multi dimensional approach of development has been collapsed  by receiving  day by day  news   reading Dalit females cook in mid day meal scheme example such as  students say ‘No’ to Dalit cook or Dalit cook was denied by villagers. Somewhere Dalit cook is not allowed to enter in kitchen.

Why it is occurring in the many villages of the state? Is it conspiracy against Dalits to disconnect them from the mainstream or political benefit of anti dalit community by using caste based discrimination as weapon in the village? Why Dalits have been always targeted in the village context? These are some of the question which we need to understand.

At present, media shows extra sensitization on Dalit news and raise this issue in the enthusiastic mode on front page as if such kind of incident never happened in the past. Are Dalit atrocities increasing in the state or media wants to prove that Dalit atrocities are increasing in Dalit headed government?

No doubt caste based discrimination led to atrocities is happening in the society earlier also atrocities were committed but given priority in news. That time the motive was to not disclose the caste but now it is different.  This is one way to understand the problem but another way to understand caste dimension and political grievances at village level.

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Indeed, villages have its own politics in Gram Panchyat election leads to many basic problem raises. It places many village level political grievances among village people, which affect local level selection process in various scheme namely shisha Mitra, Panchyat Mitra, Cook in midday meal scheme, Anganwadi worker.

It is clear those villagers are divided into various caste and groups and their own interest in politics.  These groups are fighting each other for their own benefits and placing various needy people in between. Needy people determined as scheduled caste/ scheduled tribes, other backward classes and also may be general candidate but it is in rare. Now Dalits issues have became hot news in Dalit headed government. This may be recognized one way of practicing caste system.

Bibipur case has become lime light news in Lucknow where Dalit women was cooking Mid-day meal at Bibipur Grampanchyat, police station –Banthara, Sarojani nagar Lucknow. Students say No to Dalit cook. Dalit women, Phul kumari was recently appointed as cook in mid day meal scheme on 11 December, 2007. After a day student denied eating food cooked by Dalit woman. This issue was given priority by all regional news paper and even some media channels.

All government official from district magistrate to village development officers visited school and trying to create balance in the village with the help of villagers. Each officer has its own understanding to solve this issue. The action was taken by BSA that disqualified Gram Shiksha Samiti rather than dismissal Dalit women. It is meant that dalit cook was automatically dismissed without saying for her. Now Dalit woman is out of context and problem has been solved. This is way to solve the problem by system not government. Anyway, we should not talk about village dynamics and political grievances at this juncture but we must talk about practices of discrimination on the basic of caste.

What is the problem behind such kind of practices which are going in the state without any hesitation?  Why such kind of moment is increasing at all primary schools? We will show you number of cases against Dalit wherever matter of access of facilities at Gram Panchyat level whether it is selection of Panchyat Mitra, Anganwadi worker, Asha bahu, Shiksha Mitra. Everywhere we can see discrimination in selection process, after selection, and during her services.

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We have done a critical fact finding and empirical observation of village dynamic of particular case. One Dalit woman will be replace by another Dalit woman at same post is not solution of problem. It would not be right mechanism to solve the crux of the problem because it is in root of village community.

The solution is that what are the legal provision to protect human rights and dignity of Dalits? There should not be any doubt that anti social elements are same who used to bring a problem on the basic of caste earlier. We need to spend our energy to identify problem creator and start collective action for them.

We must do effort to apply SC/ST Act, 1989 against them in democratic system and see how many people come under net work. This anti social element must be panelized by commission, their respective department and local police. After that we will prepare a case study and list of panelized candidate.

It may be headmaster to peon, gram Pradhan to common man in village whoever is involved in it. This case study will be published in news paper, news channel, and circulate all the primary school of the state. This legal mechanism may be recognized one way to reduced caste based practices at least in educational units namely primary schools.

Another serious concern  is that generally say slogan Tare zameen par or Tare school mein Future of village towards future of nation studing in prime educational unit called primary school where generally resource less children come. Are we teaching our children to practice caste system with our neighbour? Are we giving discrimination behavioral approach to our children? Children do not know about caste, class, religion. They know that how to play with other children and waiting leave bell in school. It is natural characteristics for children weather children with resources or without resources.

They would like to eat mid day meal or any other meal when they will have opportunity. Children do not have any issue over there. We were interacting some of the children in Bibipur village, a boys said, ‘Pasiyan ke hath ka banal khana nahi khaib’. It is meant by I shall not have food prepared by Pasi woman (Scheduled caste woman). Usually, Children do not learn table easily but they learnt caste discrimination so fast. How? We can understand what kind of teaching methodology used behind this chapter. Are we shaping our children to be a star with full of biases.

I would like to focus here this is an innovative conspiracy in the villages which will perpetuate ugly face of caste system in one generation to another generation. Neither it is question of mid day meal and nor question of dismissal of cook in scheme but it is forced to shameless practices among innocent children who do not know about caste system but doing such practices in planed policy.

We need to focus about Dalit women who are not doing their jobs or through out of school. What they should do? If they are leaving job or not preparing a food, or posted as cook but not doing same job. Than, We will lose our battle to fight  against caste system. This is not enough we need to show our solidarity and maintain balance among Dalit communities who also practices caste system. But still I am disappointed that I am not finding answer of the questions which I raised in the article.

Author – Prakash Kumar

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