National » Tamil Nadu

Updated: May 24, 2012 02:39 IST

Madurai villages still practising the two-tumbler system

D. Karthikeyan
Comment (6)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
CASTE PREJUDICE: A tea shop in Madaipatti village near Madurai which was sealed after it was found to be practicing the two-tumbler system. Photo: Special Arrangement
CASTE PREJUDICE: A tea shop in Madaipatti village near Madurai which was sealed after it was found to be practicing the two-tumbler system. Photo: Special Arrangement

Selvam is a postgraduate who works in a private company. Neither his economic or educational status can guarantee social equality at a tea shop in his village where he will be served tea only in a separate tumbler.

The socially abhorrent practice of having separate tumblers for caste Hindus and Dalits is still in vogue in some villages in Madurai. The district police have filed a case against a teashop owner at Madaipatti in Usilampatti taluk for practising the ‘two-tumbler' system, which has once again brought to light the practice of discrimination against Dalits. Following a complaint by Kallusami belonging to the Dalit community, a case has been registered against teashop owner N. Raja Thevar, under Section 3(1) 10 of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. His shop has been ‘sealed.' After coming to know of the police action, the accused is absconding.

Raja Thevar has disposable cups for Dalits and stainless steel tumblers for caste Hindus. This discrimination extends to outsiders visiting the village; if he is a relative of a caste Hindu he would get tea in a stainless steel tumbler or in a glass tumbler. If the person is known to have come to meet a Dalit, he would be given tea in a plastic cup.

The village has a population of 90 families belonging to Dalits and 400 belonging to Piramalai Kallars.

The village had already earned notoriety for its practices of untouchability where Dalits were prevented from using footwear in the caste Hindu area.

A few months ago, police intervened and filed cases against those who practised the discrimination after which it was stopped.

The practice of having two tumblers has undergone many changes with subtler forms to escape the attention of monitoring agencies. Citing pollution, once Dalits were served tea in coconut shells; then came separate glass tumblers for Dalits which they had to wash themselves, while everyone else was served tea in steel cups.

Then, Dalits were given tea in separate glass tumblers and in order to prevent the mixing of tumblers owners used red/yellow/green paint marks on the bottom of tumblers meant for Dalits. In many places, they were asked to bring their own cups. Now, for Dalits, it is disposable plastic cups and for others it is stainless steel cups. In most cases, Dalits can't sit on benches in tea stalls but have to squat or sit on the floor.

A recent study by an NGO, Evidence, found that the two-tumbler system is in vogue in 104 villages in Tamil Nadu. Its prevalence was found to be high also in 14 villages in Coimbatore district. The practice was found in 14 villages in Dindigul district and in 13 villages n Salem.

SP warns of stern action

Superintendent of Police Asra Garg, talking to The Hindu, agreed that the practice existed in a few villages in Madurai and now “we have identified a shop where it was practised and have filed cases under SC/ST Act.”

All the police stations coming under the district would be asked to issue warning to owners of tea stalls in their respective limits to stop it immediately.

“We will ask intelligence officials to monitor and if the practice is not stopped serious action would be taken and the practice which is against the Constitution will be eradicated,” he said.

The Supreme Court Bench of Justices Markandey Katju and Gyan Sudha Misra in April, 2011 has described the two-tumbler system as highly objectionable and an offence under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and criminal proceedings must be carried out against those practising such acts. They must be given harsh punishment, if found guilty.

A separate state for Dalits must be inescapable within each state in India to annihilate caste and its discrimination.

from:  chelladurai
Posted on: Jun 12, 2012 at 22:15 IST

It is a shame for Independent India,still untouchabili is being practiced.

from:  Nair
Posted on: May 25, 2012 at 11:59 IST

This two-tumbler practice is prevalent in every field, otherwise called double standards. Referring to a news report aired in Asianet about the "huge wealth" that the son-in-law of former dalit CJI K G Balakrishnan had allegedly acquired and the "suppression" of a letter of a high court judge by Mr Balakrishnan, Justice Krishna Iyer said, " I feel ashamed that I was a judge". He did not feel the same way when the sons of former CJI Sabharwal were able to buy property worth Rs 122 crores and when he actually misused his official position to facilitate the business of his family.

from:  Vineeth Kumaar
Posted on: May 24, 2012 at 19:12 IST

It is shameful for our country and government that we have not been able to root out the remnants of casteism and untouchability even after seven decades of independence.
At this juncture, I would like to bring out a funny side of the reported 'two tumbler system'. In olden days the landlords made the labour-class -undoubtedly the dalits- were forced to eat the bran of grains,leaves and stems of vegetables etc and the core and fleshy parts were consumed by the rich.The elite class did not know then that what the poor got was of more nutritious value.Now the dalit who are served in disposable cups are enjoying a more hygenic treat, in disguise, though intended for disgrace. See, how the egoistic are fooled by nature!

from:  p g mathew
Posted on: May 24, 2012 at 17:17 IST

It is disgusting to see that untouchability is still being practiced by Caste Hindus after all these years. Nowadays though, it is not the Brahmins who do it, but other supposedly higher castes ! It is a pity that the politicians are able to get away talking about Brahmins even today, while conveniently ignoring these practices by other caste hindus, because of vote bank politics. Those who elect such politicians are also to be blamed.

from:  Ramesh Lakshminarayanan
Posted on: May 24, 2012 at 16:42 IST

Out of all the stupendous promises made by the goverment,removal of untouchability and caste discrimination is one which the goverment boasts of.So entrenched is the caste system in the psyche of people here,that never have accepted the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity enshrined in the Constitution.We pretend to be so democratic and inclusive superfiscial ,but underneath we are demons of discrimination,prejudices and bias.Democracy and egalitarianism havent percolated till the bottom,because they continue to be the same feudal mind which preserved the social order.

from:  Dr Deodatt M Suryawanshi
Posted on: May 24, 2012 at 09:54 IST
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