People fail to acknowledge the presence of casteism in our society and annihilation of caste and eradication of corruption remain two big challenges facing the country, youth leader and Vadgam (Gujarat) MLA Jignesh Mevani said on Sunday at a session on ‘Casteism and Corruption’. He was speaking on the third and final day of the 9th Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad, organised by MIT World Peace University in Pune.
“Casteism is a blot on democracy. People do not want to admit and acknowledge issues of casteism. But it’s a reality that every day, Dalit women are raped and individuals are murdered due to their caste in various parts of India. Despite this, whenever the question of casteism is raised, Dalits have to face counter questions about ‘Why reservations should be continued?’” said Mevani. The event is being supported by the Union Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the State Ministry of Higher and Technical Education and Ministry of Sports and Youth Welfare, among others. Mevani said there were more than 80 crore people who live on just Rs 20 a day. “Casteism and corruption alone is responsible for this,” he said, adding that working class people were the most affected by corruption. “Farmers do not get loan waivers, but corporates do. I look at this as a big scam.”
Mevani said that the “phenomenon of caste has distorted every facet and dimension” of life in India to the extent that every day, three to four Dalit women are raped and five Dalits are killed. Crimes against a Dalit are committed every 18 minutes, he claimed.
Throughout the day, several other important speakers like senior Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, environmental activist Vandana Shiva, Congress’s Abhishek Manu Singhvi, lawyer Majeed Memon, Congress leader Vishwajit Kadam, and MLA Ashish Butail (Palampur, Kangra, Himachal Pradesh) attended and spoke at the event. “Even today, there are more than 80 crore people that survive on Rs 20 per day. Casteism and corruption alone is responsible for this. Working class people are the most affected by corruption. Farmers do not get loan waivers, but corporates do. I look at this as a big scam,” said Mevani.
Prashant Bhushan, who spoke on ‘Disquiet in Judiciary’, said that although there was an imminent need for judicial reforms, neither the government nor the judiciary was showing any interest in implementing the reforms. “The government doesn’t want reforms in judiciary because they want a collapsed, non-functional judiciary, as it’s one institution which, if works fine, can hold the Executive to account,” said Bhushan. He also commented on what he called “an environment of disquiet and anger” among lawyers and judges in the Supreme Court over the way Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi has dealt with the appointment of judges through the Collegium.
“80 per cent citizens who get embroiled in legal issues cannot afford to pay a lawyer. So, poor people are the victims of injustice. The remaining people having money also have to face prolonged judicial process,” said Bhushan. Advocate Majeed Memon said: “Last year, four judges of the Supreme Court had to come on the street and give a press conference against the then Chief Justice of the Supreme Court . Afterwards, he called them into his chamber and the matter was settled. The four judges joined the office again but no responsibility was given to them.” Congress leader Abhishek Manu Singhvi said: “Pandit Nehru was the successor of Mahatma Gandhi. With all his shortcomings, he was basically a liberal personality. So he developed many institutions including the Judiciary. He knew that the judiciary is the power to correct the legislature or the bureaucracy.”