Bhima-Koregaon: When new Dalit leadership faces off with Hindutva project

The educated Dalit doesn’t just want a ride on the bus of democracy; it wants to be at the steering wheels

Maharashtra saw violent protests after clashes between Dalits and some Maratha groups in Bhima Koregaon. Dalits had gathered in Pune to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon. These clashes and the subsequent protests brought the focus back on Dalit assertion and its conflict with Hindutva politics. The writer analyses this conflict in this Business Standard Special.The determination and force of the response of the Dalits to the violence at the Bhima Koregaon has unsettled the BJP governments of the state of Maharashtra and the centre. It has also baffled the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. This time it has not been easy for the BJP and the governments to denounce the protests the way could do in the past. Previously the Student leaders of the JNU were successfully branded as anti-national. The students and teachers of the Ramjas college of the university of Delhi were also declared anti-national. Before them, the student unrest – mainly led by Dalits – at the central University of Hyderabad was condemned as casteist and anti national. This time the response from the centre’s of power has been slightly complex.

It is true that the RSS tried to blame the violence at the Bhima Koregaon on Umar Khalid and Jignesh Mevani. It did say that the Bharat tere tukde honge gang was responsible for the violence. But interestingly, this time this allegation could not create the kind of frenzied attack on these leaders as we have seen on the previous occasions directed at Kanhaiya, Umar and others.

Student leader Umar Khalid and the newly elected MLA from Gujarat Jignesh Mevani were targeted specifically. Criminal cases were registered against them claiming that it was their provocative speeches which led to violence. But again, these two leaders have not been pushed to back foot. Instead of going defensive, the Dalit leaders have blamed the RSS for the violence and have been demanding the arrest of Guruji Bhide and Ekbote. Prakash Ambedkar has even allaeged that the PMO is saving these accused. The RSS is struggling. How did it happen? Let us try to understand the new situation.

Jignesh Mevani has made it clear after the atrocity at Una that he wouldn’t let the BJP and RSS have respite even for a moment. He is also articulating an alternative vision of development and politics for the Dalits which is much more than getting representation in the electoral politics for them. Even after entering the assembly in Gujarat through elections he has made it clear that his fight would continue on the streets. (more)


Private doctors end strike as NMC Bill goes to Parliament panel

NMC Bill seeks to replace MCI and also proposes allowing practitioners of alternative medicines, such as homoeopathy and Ayurveda, practise allopathy after completing a ‘bridge’

Private doctors called off a strike against the proposed National Medical Commission(NMC), after the government decided to refer the Bill in this regard to a parliamentary standing committee. Doctors argue the Bill does not allow representation of private doctors, doctors from states and students.

K K Aggarwal, immediate past president of the Indian Medical Association, says: “Issues of doctors working in the private sector are different from government doctors. Also, the government should not be part of this committee if it wants to make the NMC an autonomous body.”

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The NMC Bill envisages a four-tier structure for the regulation of medical education, with a 20-member body at the top. The proposed NMC has five doctors; the others are to be government officials. The protesting doctors say they have been kept away from electing their own representatives on the body. And, that they’d be answerable to bureaucrats than those from their own profession.

Among the other things the doctors are protesting at is that they will have to pass a separate examination before being given a licence to practice.

The Niti Aayog recommended doing away with the Medical Council of India, replacing it with the NMC. This new committee was supposed to have representatives from states to look into medical education and practice. The government decided on the move on the argument that doctors guilty of breaches of law and so forth were flourishing despite complaints were not being addressed. There have been cases where doctors accused of corrupt practices were appearing at international medical fora.

Qatar offers visa-free entry to India, 79 other nations amid Gulf crisis

Energy-rich Qatar’s economy took a hit since Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Bahrain moved to isolate it

Qatar announced on Wednesday it was scrapping visa requirements for visitors from 80 countries as it weathers a boycott by four Arab states and gears up to host the World Cup in 2022.

Under the new policy announced by Qatar Airways and authorities, citizens of 33 mostly European countries can enter without a visa for 90 days in single or multiple trips during a 180-day period.

Americans, Britons, Canadians and citizens of 44 other countries can enter visa-free for an initial 30 days on single or multiple trips, and can extend that for a further 30 days.

Energy-rich Qatar’s economy has taken a hit since Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain moved to isolate it two months ago over allegations it supports extremists.

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The quartet of Arab nations is particularly irked by Qatar’s ties with Iran and its support of Islamist opposition groups. Qatar denies it backs terror groups and says the allegations against Doha are politically motivated.

The four countries cut diplomatic and transport links with Qatar in June, and barred Qatar from using their airspace and shipping lanes.

In a related development, the UAE and Bahrain today sought to clarify a statement made the day before by the International Civil Aviation Organization, which said both countries had agreed to open up some of their airspace, including new “temporary or contingency” routes, for Qatar Airways.

The two, in statements carried on the UAE’s and Bahrain’s state-run news agencies, said that they had not agreed to open up their airspace in full to Qatari flights but to only allow Qatari aircraft to use their airspace located above international waters.

Loneliness may be a greater public health hazard than obesity: Study

Loneliness and isolation may actually lead to early death, researches say

Loneliness may be a greater public health hazard than obesity, according to a study which found that social isolation may put people at an increased risk of early death.

“Being connected to others socially is widely considered a fundamental human need – crucial to both well-being and survival,” said Julianne Holt-Lunstad, professor at Brigham Young University in the US.

“Extreme examples show infants in custodial care who lack human contact fail to thrive and often die, and indeed, social isolation or solitary confinement has been used as a form of punishment,” said Holt-Lunstad.

“Yet an increasing portion of the USPopulation now experiences isolation regularly,” she said.

To illustrate the influence of social isolation and loneliness on the risk for premature mortality, Holt-Lunstad presented data from two research reviews.

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The first involved 148 studies, representing more than 300,000 participants, and found that greater social connection is associated with a 50 per cent reduced risk of early death.

The second study, involving 70 studies representing more than 3.4 million individuals from North America, Europe, Asia and Australia, examined the role that social isolation, loneliness or living alone might have on mortality.

Researchers found that all three had a significant and equal effect on the risk of premature death, one that was equal to or exceeded the effect of other well-accepted risk factors such as obesity.

“There is robust evidence that social isolation and loneliness significantly increase risk for premature mortality, and the magnitude of the risk exceeds that of many leading health indicators,” said Holt-Lunstad.