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LETTERS

Issn 0012-9976
Ever since the first issue in 1966,
EPW has been Indias premier journal for
comment on current affairs
and research in the social sciences.
It succeeded Economic Weekly (1949-1965),
which was launched and shepherded
by Sachin Chaudhuri,
who was also the founder-editor of EPW.
As editor for thirty-five years (1969-2004)
Krishna Raj
gave EPW the reputation it now enjoys.

editor

C Rammanohar Reddy
Deputy Editor

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Editor: C Rammanohar Reddy.

More on Participatory
Aquifer Mapping

propos of the letter Dangers in Participatory Aquifer Mapping (16 February 2013), it is important to understand
the background regarding the groundwater crisis in India. Eshwer Kale cautions us about the need to think about
participatory aquifer mapping and regulation before rolling these out on a large
scale. Such caution is required, but it
should not be a deterrent to an exercise
that promises a common pool approach to
managing groundwater resources. Indias
approach until quite recently was programmed towards searching for newer
groundwater sources even as we took
giant steps in applying water for irrigation and other needs.
The introduction of a common pool
approach to groundwater management
cannot move forward without an understanding of the diverse aquifer setting in
India at the scales of villages, habitations, watersheds, river basins and
even towns and cities. Decentralised
groundwater access has helped improve
the lives and livelihoods of millions of
Indian farmers but has led to resource
anarchy. The consequences have been
groundwater depletion, scarcity and contamination, leading to a gross vulnerability in about 60% of Indias districts.
It is being stated that the 1972 drought
was about food scarcity, whereas the
2013 drought is about an extremely
serious water crisis, the magnitude of
which cannot be easily fathomed.
The Twelfth Plan approach on water
resources clearly states the need to move
significantly away from an exploratorynew sources-development approach to a
resource-management centric approach.
Managing demand for water poses
the biggest challenge in the reformed
approach to water resources. The proposition, as envisioned, is not so much about
mapping to identify new aquifers that
people can exploit, but to mark the
characteristics of aquifers and help
communities understand their boundaries, their stocks and flows with the purpose of promoting a common pool perspective to the large mass of groundwater
march 9, 2013

users. This exercise will also help streamline groundwater recharge at scale,
one of the important tenets of groundwater governance.
Community participation is important in
any demand-based regulation of natural
resources. Groundwater is no different.
However, getting people to participate in
socially regulated processes for managing resources like groundwater is difficult
unless they participate in the process of
understanding the resource. There are
promising and interesting experiences
emerging on participatory groundwater
management. Groundwater is a partly
visible and complex resource, making it
all the more important to link participatory understanding to the management and regulation of such a resource.
While everyone can act as auditors on
how the government strategises the
promise of sustainable groundwater
management, it would be pertinent to
also think about how researchers and
experts can play an active role in the
exercise itself, to prevent misuse of information for individual benefits, in the
pursuit of not only sustainable management of groundwater but also equitable
utilisation of a resource that has become
vulnerable and fragile, often outside
the access of marginalised sections of
the community.
Himanshu Kulkarni, Pune
P S Vijayshankar, Bagli, Dewas Dt, MP

Inequality within Dalit


Community

S S Pandian deserves much appreciation for his article Caste in


Tamil Nadu-III: Denying Difference
(EPW, 23 February 2013). It is rather
easy to criticise brahmins and brahmanism but it needs courage to analyse
the present scenario of dalit dogmas.
His article on the Arunthathiyar inner
reservation is an example of the existing caste hierarchy among the dalits.
Inner reservation is steadfastly opposed
by the elite dalit communities for their
own material and political gains. As the
article shows, this is not merely a story
of Arunthathiyars and Tamil Nadu, but
a national issue.
vol xlviII no 10

EPW

Economic & Political Weekly

LETTERS

It is pathetic that even the selfproclaimed dalit intellectuals hide the fact
of internal differentiation among dalit
communities. When feeble voices for
subcategorisation/inner reservation for
SCs are raised, they are literally threatened by dalit professors/intelligentsia.
The issue of inner reservation has been
examined in three commission reports by
justice Janardanan (Tamil Nadu), justice
Usha Mehra (central government commission on Andhra Pradesh SC-subcategorisation) and justice Sadashivam (SC-subcategorisation in Karnataka). Further,
the chief minister of Bihar has recently
announced maha-dalit status for underrepresented SCs. One needs to remember
that intra-reservation among the dalits was
in operation for more than two decades
in Punjab and Haryana.
P Venkatesan

Asish Gupta, D Manjit


PUDR, DELHI

Bangalore

Throttling Freedom
in Kashmir

eoples Union for Democratic Rights


(PUDR) strongly condemns the imposition of curfew accompanied by a
blanket gag on all media, including television, print and online, in the Kashmir
Valley following the hanging of Afzal
Guru on 9 February.
On 9 February, Kashmir Valley was
placed under a pre-emptive curfew forcing people to stay locked inside their
houses. Satellite and cable TV, internet
and even mobile sms had been blacked
out in the Valley. On the night of 9 February, the police also stopped the publication and distribution of all newspapers. This continued for four days.
The authorities did not allow copy to
reach the press. Police teams visited
various printing presses of daily newspapers and asked the managements to
stop publishing. With internet services
withdrawn, online editions too could
not get updated on time.
This was done to silence the protests
against the cold-blooded judicial killing
of Guru and to keep the people in the
dark about dissenting voices and popular
opinion in Kashmir. Evidently, putting
the entire population of the Valley under
house-arrest and the blatant violation of
Economic & Political Weekly

the right to free speech, expression and


assembly did not prick the conscience of
the self-styled keepers of the collective
conscience of the country.
Gagging of the media is nothing new
in Kashmir, and by and large it goes
unreported in the media. In fact, Indias
media watchdogs have acquired a notoriety in consistently acquiescing to the
throttling of the freedom of expression
and assembly through their silence
where Kashmir is concerned. PUDR
sincerely hopes that the Indian mainstream media and its apex bodies like
the Press Council of India, Editors Guild
and the News Broadcasters Association
will find the courage to speak out
against this outrageous attack on the
freedom of the press and the systematic
throttling of democratic rights of the
people of Kashmir.

EPW

march 9, 2013

Death of Kalandar Bears

ne More Sloth Bear Dies. So ran


the headline of a news item in
the Bangalore edition of Deccan Herald
(1 February 2013, p 2). Ratnakar, as the
bear was called, had been rescued in
June 2009 from Hampikatte, Bellary
from Kalandars and died because the
Bear Rescue and Rehabilitation Center
(BRRC) could not diagnose and treat
the animal for TB infection.
How were the bears rescued from
their Kalandar captors and tormentors?
It began by luring the Kalandars into
getting their bears micro-chipped and
the rest fell into place when the Kalandar
men with their bears set out on their
savaari, a Kalandar expression signifying
a journey when they roamed to make a
living. The Kalandar men, innocent of

the machinations of the wildlife activists,


were picked up and in some cases jailed.
Provisions of the Wild Life Protection
Act, 1972 were invoked in this rescuing.
This private and public partnership intimidated the Kalandars into surrendering
their bears to the BRRC, a collaborative
project between wildlife organisations
both local and foreign and the state
which was inaugurated in 2002. The
Kalandars, with little knowledge of the
larger world and bereft of any resources,
now experienced the terrifying powers
of the law and jails. Raju, the last
Kalandar bear, was surrendered to the
BRRC in 2009 and with this the profession of bear-dancing of the Kalandar
people ended officially.
The Kalandars number about 500
families and live in 11 villages spread
over five districts in Karnataka. A Muslim
nomadic tribe treated as untouchables
by the mainstream Muslim community,
the Kalandars are syncretic in their
religious practices. Their community in
Manglapura village (Koppal district) numbering about 30 families is the guardian
of the village shrine of two Hindu deities:
Bothana and Chaudeswari.
Two ideas animate the discourse of
animal rights activism. The wild is the
natural habitat for bears and once in
captivity they are bound to be ill-treated.
Who then could be more criminal than
the Kalandar people? But with the BRRC
losing more than 24 sloth bears to TB in
the past two years, freedom from the
Kalandars has turned out to be as deadly
as Kalandar captivity. The Kalandar
people with a history going back to the
pre-Mughal era are now getting sedentarised into a labouring poor class that
carries the stigma of criminality.
Ajit Kumar
Nagpur

Web Exclusives
The following articles have been uploaded in the past week in the Web Exclusives
section of the EPW website. They have not been published in the print edition.
Read them at http://epw.in
(1) Quashing Dissent: Where National Security and Commercial Media Converge
Sukumar Muralidharan
(2) All Out Crackdown on the Working Class in Noida Kavita Krishnan
Articles posted before 2 March 2013 remain available in the Web Exclusives section.

vol xlviII no 10

LETTERS

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Discussion
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march 9, 2013

vol xlviII no 10

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