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A Teacher not allowed into the School: Another sign of medieval caste system

"After dalit girl Sita of Gundi village, it’s now the turn of a teacher Bhramarabar Sethi who is not allowed to enter into the primary school running in the village community hall in Arakhkuda – Ward number 13 of Konark NAC."

N A Shah Ansari : December 9, 2008

Konark – the paradise of tourists is taking a name for medieval caste discrimination. After dalit girl Sita of Gundi village, it’s now the turn of a teacher Bhramarabar Sethi who is not allowed to enter into the primary school running in the village community hall in Arakhkuda – Ward number 13 of Konark NAC.

The school has been started by the government of Orissa since February 2008. As there is no formal school building constructed in the village, it has been decided to run the school in the village community hall called Bhagavat Tungi (the place where Bhagavat is recited) till the new school building comes up.

The school has 4 classes from one to four with the strength of about 40. But, instead of running the school in the hall, the classes are held on the Verandah. The reason is quite shocking.

When we asked the teacher about the reason, he said, “I belong to SC community. As it is a Bhagavat Tungi, I am restricted to enter inside and thus I am teaching here on the Verandah. The villagers have promised to build a thatched house nearby where I can enter and teach. But it has not yet happened”.

Even though it is 62 years since India won freedom, it’s a shame to come across the fact that a teacher has been discriminated like this. What would be the lesson for the students when the teacher is a victim of medieval caste discrimination?

But the villagers are quite indifferent to the issue. When we asked the village priest Rabindra Rath about the reasons of not allowing a government appointed teacher into the school, his reply was – ‘There are gods inside. So we can’t allow low caste people inside’.

It’s again shocking that knowing everything the administration is silent about the discriminatory behaviour to a teacher who holds the responsibility to teach the village children. Even though the case has been brought to public notice by the vernacular as well as national dailies, the administration is still keeping its eyes and ears closed to the case and the issue at large.

However, the intervention of Namaskar - a campaign run by the common forum of NGOs operating in and around Konark - has brought some result for the teacher. The villagers have shifted the school to a nearby asbestos roofed house where the teacher is allowed to enter. But the irony is that, knowing about the caste based discrimination to the teacher by the villagers of Arakhkuda, police or the local administration has still been indifferent to the issue of caste based social discrimination in the locality.

The case of teacher Bhramarbar Sethi is the second case of discrimination in a school that has come to the public notice so far. The case of Sita - a dalit girl from Gundi village - being discriminated and not allowed into the class room on caste reason had forced the administration to take prompt action only after NGO intervention and media attention.

And the greatest question now is, when a teacher is treated like this, what can be told about the future of total literacy campaign initiated by the government?

(Author is a leading Social and Media Activist working for empowerment of youth and people living in Rural Orissa)

 

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