People's Democracy(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)
December 10, 2006
SECOND ALL INDIA ADIVASI-DALIT YOUTH CONVENTION
Up Against Oppression, Exploitation, Discrimination
THE two-day All India Adivasi and Dalit Youth Convention was organised by the Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) at Dungarpur (Rajasthan). The convention was part of the DYFI’s fight against oppression, exploitation and discrimination, for social justice, and for economic and political empowerment of the downtrodden sections.
Despite the limited material and human resources at its command, the DYFI’s district unit in the tribal-preponderant Dungarpur district had made praiseworthy preparations for the convention and the programme was given wide advance publicity in this district that lies in the southernmost part of Rajasthan, adjoining Gujarat. The venue was named after martyr Kali Bai, a militant woman leader of the tribal people, and the dais after late Narayan Lal Manaat who was a renowned Leftist leader of the area. Dalit and adivasi youth from various parts of the country attended the convention. All the thoroughfares in the city were decorated with DYFI flags, banners and festoons for the occasion.
The DYFI general secretary Tapas Sinha hoisted the DYFI flag at the conference venue on October 28 morning, and floral tributes were paid at the martyrs column. The delegates moved in a procession to reach Nana Bai park where people from Dungarpur and adjoining areas had gathered for the public meeting. From here started the Youth rally that traversed a two-km route to reach the old sabzi mandi in the Patera locality of the town. About three thousand people attended the public meeting.
The main speaker at the meeting was the CPI(M)’s Polit Bureau member Sitaram Yechury. In his speech, he made it clear that the Left support for the UPA regime at the centre was on the basis of the latter’s Common Minimum Programme only. He likened the Congress party to an oilman’s ox that has developed the habit of moving in a circle; it is the task of the Left to make it move in straight line. Whether in parliament or outside, the Left is seeking to continue its pressure upon the UPA government, so as to prevent it to the extent possible from taking anti-people steps. Yechury condemned the BJP government of Rajasthan, led by an arrogant Vasundhara Raje Scindia, for rejecting the eminently justified demands of the peasantry and resorting to repression against them. He warned that the peasant movement in the state has taken on the dimensions of a mass movement and that the BJP government would have to pay for its misdemeanours.
Yechury urged the tribal and dalit youth to realise that struggle is the only way for them to get their rights. They have to identify their enemies and friends and strongly rebuff the challenge of divisive forces that are out to mislead their anger into fratricidal channels. The DYFI’s task is to organise the dalit and adivasi youth and to make them an integral part of the democratic movement.
Former DYFI general secretary, Hannan Mollah, condemned the Vasundhara Raje government of Rajasthan for having called in the army to crush the legitimate struggle of the peasantry. It had never happened so in independent India, he said, adding that this underlined all the more emphatically the need of an all-out unity on people’s demands.
The rally was presided over by Naresh Jamatia who was DYFI vice president and convenor of its tribal youth sub-committee. In his presidential address he highlighted the aim of organising this convention in the context of the problems facing the dalit and adivasi masses in relation to land and forests. Others who spoke at the rally were former DYFI leader Arun Mehta, DYFI treasurer and Youth Stream editor Pushpender Tyagi, DYFI state secretary Ram Prasad Jangir, district secretary Devendra Katara and peasant leader Amrit Lal Kalal.
The convention that started in the evening had a four-member presidium. The reception committee chairman Devilal Katara welcomed the delegates. Sitaram Yechury inaugurated the delegates’ session.
After Naresh Jamatia presented the draft resolution of the convention, delegates from all the represented states discussed it threadbare for about three hours, highlighting various weaknesses seen in the organisation’s functioning at the lower and other levels, and making their own suggestions born out of their field experiences. The resolution was unanimously adopted after Tapas Sinha replied to the discussion and assured that some of the suggestions would be concretised and incorporated while finalising the convention’s resolution.
According to the credentials committee report, 130 delegates, including three girls, from 14 states attended the convention. Of them, dalits numbered 62 and adivasis 63. As many as 72 delegates had taken part in the first adivasi-dalit youth convention held in Rourkela (Orissa) in 2002.
The new All-India adivasi-dalit youth sub-committee has Premchand as its convenor. He is Haryana state president of the DYFI and a member of the DYFI central executive committee.
While lauding the holding of the convention in his valedictory address, Hannan Mollah said critically reviewing and analysing the activities is an equally important task for deciding the future targets. This is all the more necessary because while the tribal and dalit communities have some common problems all over the country, concrete situation varies from state to state and even from district to district. Taking the ground situation into account and intervening in the situation on the basis thereof is the way to strengthen the movement, raise the level of consciousness of the adivasi and tribal youth, and mount a powerful resistance on the oppressors and exploiters. He said the DYFI would have to make these youth aware of the schemes and projects being run in their name and also to fight the corruption prevailing therein.
The convention chalked out a programme of dharnas and demonstrations at the district level to demand passage of the amended Forests Act, preceded by an awareness week and signature campaign on the issue. There is also the plan to hold an all-India level dharna in Delhi where a memorandum would be submitted to the prime minister.