Here again, racism was clearly inscribed on the colonial prison. The colonial administration depended on the natives to administer the prison. However, the inherent problem of low salaries and corruption plagued the subordinate staff. As outlined in the book, the prison reforms led to the setting up of central jails, with the first one being built in Agra (1846). This was followed by the construction of several other presidency jails, including the one at Alipore (Calcutta) in 1864. The second major aspect involved the recruitment of inspectors-general for these jails.
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Aspects like preferential treatment for European and Eurasian offenders meant the entry of racism into the jails. A point that comes out rather sharply is the deplorable hygienic conditions in the prisons, leading to high mortality. The prisoners were exposed to prison diet as well as penal diet, and punishment included solitary confinement and the use of handcuffs and fetters. These factors together precipitated prison offences, which included escaping, refusing to work and disobeying prison authorities. The basic idea of putting people in prison was to make prison sentences as distasteful as possible and to extract hard labour. Another aim was to spend as little as possible over these enclaves. The author refers to the colonial prison as a distorted caricature of what existed in contemporary England. This was especially so as the attempt was to blend the contradictory worlds of modernity and backwardness, and indigenous and foreign. The authors effort to examine the official staff within the prison is laudable since this is a relatively unresearched area. The prison staff included the superior white staff, who were paid well, and the natives who were recruited as the subordinate staff.
This was taken up in the Prison Act of 1894. The author refers to the classification of prisoners into the categories habitual and summary casual primarily as a strategy to avoid contamination of the latter. Alongside, there were under-trial prisoners and the problems involved in allowing some of them who were innocent to mix with convicts. Thanthoni the cellular jail in the Andamans. The 1857 rebellion supplied the first batch of political prisoners to the Andaman jail after it was resurrected as a site to accommodate political prisoners. Of course, the colonial prison had inmates whose segregation was desired by the government. This meant curbing the liberty of individuals whom the government could not tolerate.
Focussing on prison discipline, madhurima sen refers to its uneven nature. The sudder nizamat Adalat made the pioneering effort to formulate rules for administering jails, in 1811. However, summary the lack of a uniform code of rules left the matter to individual judges and this hardly produced any impact. The issue of prison discipline was viewed seriously only after 1838 when a worthwhile plan was adopted for the purpose. The pressing needs of the emerging colonial state blurred any serious possibilities for reforms. The overwhelming emphasis literature on punishment and deterrence, along with the mixing of habitual and non-habitual offenders as well as adults and juveniles, led to the emergence of the prison as manufacturing units of crime. Besides, the jails were overcrowded as they were located within buildings meant for some other purpose. This was the context in which some steps were taken to institute prison reforms (1838). However, these proved to be largely ineffective as they ignored vital aspects such as housing women and juvenile prisoners.
Madhurima sen locates these as a part of the colonial knowledge-production system. Perhaps this also needs to be located as an area where the indigenous upper-caste/class order collaborated with the colonialist. The author delineates certain characteristics of the colonial prison from the time it was put in place. For instance, the cornwallis Code of 1793, which emphasised equality before law, was operationalised on the basis of racism. This meant the birth of two legal systems the supreme court in Calcutta (now Kolkata which examined the cases of Englishmen on the basis of English law, and the sudder nizamat and the subordinate courts, which administered justice for the natives. As the author rightly asserts, colonialism adjusted and readjusted itself to negotiate changes over time. These changes were generated, among other factors, by the conflicts in the countryside, like the rebellions (the fakir-Sanyasi and the santhal rebellions) that occurred in the first half of the 19th century. The anxieties posed by the rebellion of 1857 and the subsequent takeover of India by the Crown (1858) were also major markers that led to the strengthening of prison laws. The basic thrust was to camouflage the problems that made people rise against the British which were, ironically, created by colonialism.
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03-16, 2009 india's national magazine from the publishers of the hindu books a criminal legacy biswamoy pati madhurima sens book shows how racism and discrimination characterised colonial prisons. The colonial prison has attracted a wide range of scholars. They include historians such as Ranjan Chakraborty, david Arnold and Basudeb Chattopadhyaya and political scientists such as Ujjwal Singh whose laura monumental work has been on political prisoners. Issues and themes ranging from the ideological underpinnings shaping the prison and the location of crime/criminality to the life of prisoners including political prisoners have already been explored. Madhurima sens book, however, introduces one to the makings and the specificities of the colonial prison. She weaves in her story a rich variety of archival sources and reports, harmonising it with the paradigms of interdisciplinary research.
Developing her arguments around the process of Indias colonisation and what can perhaps be called the birth of the colonial prison, she draws on European and English history in order to emphasise the way industrialisation and the development of capitalism and urbanisation saw the emergence. This, in other words, was a virtual class offensive against the dangerous classes that were at the receiving end of the emerging civil society. Thus, the judicial system, prison laws and the setting up of the colonial prison had the distinct footprints of what the coloniser inherited from home (namely, england). This coexisted with serious colonial inventions. One can highlight where here the special terms used to define and create criminal tribes and castes.
Targeted intervention the sachar Committee recommended special measures and targeted intervention to help the disadvantaged minority, but it was not in favour of reservation for the community as a whole because it lacks legitimacy as against caste groupings. However, the committees emphasis on the institutional deficit of Muslims bolstered the long- standing claim of the muslim community that it has been unfairly treated by successive governments. Zoya hasan agrees that mandatory reservation is not the best solution to problems of institutional deficit and that aa need not be synonymous with reservation. She suggests that aa can give preference to minorities in public institutions and higher education. She seeks to justify this kind of aa because making political elites and legislatures more representative is an important objective that stands on its own.
The demand for aa or a sub" for Muslim obcs, according to her, is not a radical one, yet a positive response to that can signal a major conceptual shift in the approach towards the minorities, particularly the muslim minority, which has been outside the. Zoya hasan succinctly sums up her central thesis in the concluding chapter: Reservations on the basis of religion are not permissible under the constitution, yet from the beginning religious criteria have been inherent in the process of classification and designation of beneficiary groups and the. This is obvious, she says, from the continuing exclusion of Dalit Muslims and Christians from the. She believes that aa minus reservation in employment or education may address the deprivation and disadvantage among Muslims, but even this faces opposition on the grounds that it violates secularism. Targeted intervention through the 15 per cent budgetary resource allocation for minorities in all government welfare schemes could help address empowerment issues, she says. End of exclusion, on the other hand, would require bolder initiatives, such as the recruitment of Muslims in government, she suggests. A recurrent theme in the book is that while India has been relatively successful in addressing discrimination and disadvantage among caste groups, it has not been equally alive to discrimination against minorities. She makes a plea for taking a fresh look at the supreme courts rejection of the economic criterion in framing aa yardsticks in the Indra sawhney judgment in 1992 as, in her view, rapid economic and social changes in the past 15 years have increased. M Volume 26 - issue 01 : Jan.
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According to her, it is because of reservation in first public employment that a middle class has emerged among the. C.s, and this has in turn provided a measure of energy and leadership to the community in its struggle for equity, dignity and justice. Zoya hasan notes that by and large all the States have listed backward Muslim groups as Other Backward Classes essay (OBCs but States with a high demographic concentration of Muslims have not been able to provide adequate representation to muslim obcs in government employment. Aa is possible on the basis of social backwardness defined in caste terms but not on the basis of minority identity. The author finds from the data collected by the sachar Committee that Muslim obcs have not benefitted from their inclusion in the obc list: it has had no significant impact on their access to jobs or education, nor has it contributed to an improvement. Muslim obcs constitute.7 per cent of the muslim population, and their share among the obc population of the country stands.7 per cent. But this is not reflected in their representation either in public employment or in educational institutions, zoya hasan laments.
One effect of this exclusion in the economic sphere, she claims, has been the slowing down of the emergence of a muslim middle class. She attributes the educational backwardness of Muslims to their perception that they will not be able to get government jobs in comparison to other communities, and hence there is no incentive to complete higher education. This encourages them to drop out and take up self-employment. The author admits that it is hard to establish the existence of any discrimination against Muslims in public employment but points to evidence (in the form of court cases) that Muslims feel they are affected by biases in selection. The sachar Committee cites a number of instances of discrimination against the muslim community. Zoya hasan believes that educational backwardness can explain Muslims underrepresentation at the higher levels of employment but cannot account for their near-complete absence from the lower levels of employment, for instance, at the level of Class iv jobs such as drivers, messengers and constables. For example, in 2003 when the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) was asked to excavate the babri mosque site at ayodhya following the Allahabad High courts orders, it turned out that of the 55 or so diggers it engaged, not one was a muslim. However, after the courts intervention in the matter, the asi hired a few Muslims. She argues essay that it is imperative to promote participation of ethnic minorities in public institutions and the hierarchies of power so that these groups do not become vulnerable to exclusion from the broader policy discourse.
it is not clear whether recognising the minorities for policy attention is against the rules of a secular democracy or whether it is unacceptable because it leads to communalisation of the polity. Dwelling on the constituent Assembly debates, she observes that the trade-off between preferential treatment for lower castes and cultural rights for religious minorities proved to be disadvantageous for the latter as it meant that the real problems of minority citizens in terms of livelihood and. The two key issues with regard to inclusion, according to the author, are backwardness (which in principle covers the muslim community but is not specific to it) and underrepresentation (which is specific to the muslim community). Drawing from the data compiled by the sachar Committee, the author points out that the absence of Muslims in positions of power and at the decision-making level is as marked today as it was 55 years ago when Jawaharlal Nehru, the Prime minister, drew attention. Muslims share in government jobs.9 per cent and their representation in the armed forces is believed to be just 2 per cent. The sachar Committee showed that only 8 per cent of urban Muslims were part of the salaried classes compared with the national average of 21 per cent for urban India. It reported severe underrepresentation in government jobs even in States in which Muslims constituted large minorities. The author reveals that the situation is worse in the private sector. According to one survey, just over 1 per cent of corporate executives are muslim.
One such precept is that the concept of exclusion is applicable primarily to historically oppressed groups and not to minorities. The author seeks to demolish this assumption by relying on Amartya sens distinction between active and passive exclusion: the former works by fostering exclusion through deliberate discriminatory policy gps intervention, while the latter works through social processes such as the caste system. Exclusion, she says, leads to the denial of economic opportunities and consequent powerlessness. Low income, low merit and low productivity are not the causes but the consequences of such exclusion, she suggests. Among the minorities, muslims constitute a significant segment.4 per cent of Indians. The sachar Committee report found stark underrepresentation of Muslims and systematic evidence to show that they are in many respects as disadvantaged as the lowest caste groups among Hindus. She points out that caste divisions remain central to the definition of disadvantage, and thus disadvantages suffered by lower castes in terms of development and access to public services are well documented and addressed through policy intervention. For the minorities, however, knowledge and concern are invariably centred on issues of security and identity and not on equity and justice, she observes.
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Permalink, raw Message, india ink: Sid Harth, volume 26 - issue 01 : Jan. India's national magazine from the publishers of the hindu. Books, negative action,. Venkatesan, the book seeks to demolish precepts that deny the benefits of affirmative action to the minorities. For long, the debate on the equality provisions in the Indian. Constitution has centred around the issue of compensatory discrimination in favour of the Scheduled Castes, the Scheduled Tribes and the backward Classes. Any mention of affirmative action (AA) in favour of the deprived minority groups in India has always invited derision as it is construed as a manifestation of communalism. Hasan, professor of political science at Jawaharlal Nehru University and a member of the national Commission for Minorities, has to be commended for writing Politics of Inclusion, an extraordinary book, which questions many of the precepts and stereotypes that figure. Indian debates on equality.