Muslim Dalits Halalkhors
The religious restriction in Article 341 has made it so that Muslim and Christian Dalits cannot get SC status. As a result communities like Halalkhors remain downtrodden.

Though socially similar to Hindu Dalit communities like Valmikis, Halalkhors do not receive the same treatment in the eyes of the law. Hindu Dalits have Scheduled Caste status, which grants them access to government schemes and welfare measures. Halalkhors and other Pasmanda castes are excluded from SC status, despite BR Ambedkar identifying the Halalkhor caste as untouchable in his 1948 book The Untouchables: Who Were They And Why They Became Untouchables. The 1921 census also recorded Halalkhors as a Scheduled Caste.

The absence of Scheduled Caste status keeps the Halalkhor community trapped in a marginalised state. In October 2022, the central government set up a panel to examine the issue of SC status for Muslim and Christian Dalits. In April this year, the Supreme Court also heard a petition regarding SC status for converted Dalits. For the government to recognise the need for such provisions, it is important to understand that Muslim society is not homogeneous, and casteism, discrimination, and untouchability exist within it, similar to Hindu society.

Reservation serves as an instrument of social justice for these socially excluded castes and contributes to nation-building. It is the first step in ensuring their proportional representation in politics, education, justice, business, and other fields. Granting SC status to Pasmandas, who have faced exclusion, exploitation, disrespect, and deprivation for thousands of years, would provide them with opportunities for improvement and upliftment.
Abdullah Mansoor

Shark Fin Business
Sharks have graced the planet earth for 450 million years. Today, their numbers are dwindling rapidly, as a result of a sustained assault by profit-driven overfishing. Recently, Brazilian authorities seized fins from 10,000 of these majestic creatures–many of them endangered.

A disturbing loophole in Brazil's laws allows companies to make a fortune selling severed shark fins. So fishing fleets chasing massive profits pull in as many sharks as they can.

The only way to save the sharks from slaughter is an absolute ban on the fin trade. And it can happen! The United States passed such a ban last year, followed by the UK this year.  Now Brazil must urgently do the same. Brazilian lawmakers plan to hold a hearing in the coming weeks–but to move Congress to action people need to ignite a global outcry too loud to be ignored.

The cruelty of finning is chilling, but it isn’t the only problem. Sharks are vitally important to ocean ecosystems. When shark populations dwindle, coral reefs die, seabed grass withers, and biodiversity declines.
Yet more than 70 million sharks are killed every year just for their fins, and overfishing has put over one third of shark species on the endangered list.


Back to Home Page

Vol 56, No. 7, Aug 13 - 19, 2023