(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
April 27, 2008
In Defence Of The Rights Of The Dalit People
Resolution Adopted at the XIX Congress on March 31, 2008
This XIX Congress of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), while expressing grave concern at the growing atrocities, violence and social and economic discrimination against dalits, resolves to fight in defence of the social, economic and political rights of dalits.
The XIX Congress expresses its concern that the mass of dalits have been excluded from the benefits of the high growth rates claimed by the government as a symbol of the success of its neo-liberal policies. In the 2008-09 Budget the total Plan outlay for dalits (excluding Central Assistance for state and union territory Plans) has come down from 7.90 per cent of total government expenditure in 2007-2008 to 7.51 per cent this year. This falls short of the proportion of SC population in the total population of the country and goes against the prescribed strategy for Scheduled Caste Sub Plan (SCSP), which recommends allocations proportionate to population. The SCSP expenditures, for which a mechanism must be set up in the centre and the states, must be properly monitored.
The XIX Congress calls on all sections to pay specific attention to the impact of neo-liberal policies on dalits in all struggles against such policies and to formulate and raise demands appropriately. Dalits have been affected specifically by the following:
The virtual end of land reform programmes in most states harms dalits specifically, because 75 per cent of dalits are landless and near-landless, and 62 per cent of dalit households in rural India and 63 per cent in urban India depend on wage labour.
The ban on recruitment on government and public sector jobs, which has reduced the number of dalits employed in reserved posts. Privatisation, outsourcing, and the contractualisation of tasks have also reduced the number of available jobs. The demand for reservations in the private sector is yet to be met. There is a huge and mounting backlog in unfilled posts.
Financial liberalisation, which has resulted in a drop in rural credit available to dalits.
The inadequate allocations for social sector schemes, which denies dalits the universal right to education and health facilities.
The refusal to universalise the public distribution system, which, according to NSS figures, has resulted in 61 per cent of dalits being deprived of BPL cards, although malnutrition levels among dalits and adivasis are very high.
The horrifying Khairlanji atrocity in Maharashtra against a dalit family is a symbol of the casteist violence that dalits, particularly dalit women, face as a result of the persistent scourges of untouchability, discrimination, segregation and social exclusion. On an average there were over 22,000 cases of atrocities and violence against dalits every year in the last decade. Conviction rates are extremely low, reflecting the utter failure of the system to deliver justice to dalits. Therefore, struggles to force the government to implement Acts like SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act and Manual Scavenging Abolition Act are to be conducted. Increased awakening and assertion of dalits is met with cruel reprisals and violence by anti-dalit forces. The Party must stand firmly with dalits and help them to beat back the perpetrators of caste oppression.
The communist movement has a proud tradition of being in the forefront of the struggles for the rights of dalits. Left-led governments in West Bengal, Kerala and Tripura have shown the way in respect of basic social change in the condition of the dalit rural masses through land reforms and panchayati raj. Atrocities on dalits in the Left-led states are insignificant in number.
The XIX Congress calls upon the entire Party and all mass organisations to actively integrate struggles against social discrimination and for the rights of the dalits with the class struggle, to battle against the perpetrators of atrocities against dalits, to fight for the complete eradication of untouchability and for the annihilation of the pernicious caste system, and to expose and counter the efforts of those who attempt to detach the dalit people from democratic mobilisation.
The XIX Congress demands:
stringent implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and strict action against the perpetrators of atrocities against dalits;
eradication of all forms of social discrimination;
land reform, with priority to dalits, adivasis and women in respect of the distribution of agricultural and house-site land and joint pattas;
immediate filling up of the backlog of vacancies reserved for dalits and adivasis in government jobs and in educational institutions;
a brake on the privatisation drive;
reservations for dalits and adivasis in the private sector;
recognition of all Namashudra communities as dalits and recognition of the rights of dalit muslims and christians;
strengthening of the SC, ST and OBC Development and Finance Corporations to ensure an adequate flow of institutional credit at low rates of interest;
augmenting and extending Special Central Assistance to Scheduled Caste Special Component Plans and establishing a counterpart of the Tribal Sub-Plan for all sections of dalits.