People's Democracy

(Weekly Organ of the Communist Party of India (Marxist)


No. 09

March 04, 2007

CPI(M) Criticises Parties For Ignoring Devadasis


K Varadha Rajan addressing the convention in Gulbarga


THE Polit Bureau member of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), K Varadha Rajan slammed major political parties, including the Congress and the BJP which had enjoyed power for having done very little to end the ‘devadasi’ system in which young girls are dedicated to gods and goddess but end up as sex workers.


K Varadharajan, who inaugurated the first convention of the Karnataka State Devadasi Vimochana Sangh, in Gulbarga, said so far the successive governments had not evolved any rehabilitation measures for the unfortunate women and allowed these women to lead a pitiable life of begging in the streets.


He said the time had come for devadasis to organise themselves and fight against the injustice meted out to them by society in the name of religion and god. The devadasis do not require any kind of sympathy from the society, but want society and the government to provide support for their survival and lead a honourable life.


According to the varnashrama system, there are four categories of people, namely, Brahmins, Kshyatriyas, Vaishyas, and Shoodras. However, there is a fifth category of people who have been exploited since ages and they are being called as dalits. However even in these modern times, some people who still believe in the varnashrama system, are trying to revive the sanathana dharma. This has led to the continuation of the evil practice of devadasi system.


He further added that scores of women had been exploited under the devadasi system. The BJP leaders like AB Vajpayee, LK Advani and others propagate the greatness of Hindu religion. But none of these leaders come forward, or have taken up fight, for the eradication of the devadasi system.


However, he stressed that the CPI(M) had always stood against the exploitation of women and would continue with this fight. The devadasis do not need the sympathy, but they need a respectful living. The state government should immediately come forward to provide them a respectful living, he urged.


Maruti Manpade, district secretary of the CPI(M), who presided over the convention, said that there were more than nine lakh devadasis in the state and they were forced to lead a life of destitute. A majority of the devadasis belonged to the dalit community and they were the worst sufferers of exploitation among women, he added.


The convention was attended by 2000 devadasis from over ten districts. Several resolutions were passed including the formation of a state level Karnataka State Devadasi Vimochana Sangh to take up the cause of the devadasis with the government and frame a foolproof rehabilitation plan for the devadasis.


Another resolution demanded the government to order a survey of the devadasis in the state and provide “certificates” to all devadasis to claim the benefits of several welfare programmes launched by the government. The convention demanded the government to provide housing facility and Antodaya ration cards to all devadasis.


Another resolution passed unanimously in the convention demanded the government to pay a monthly pension of Rs.750 to all devadasis and provide provident fund to the them. All devadasis should be provided two acres of agriculture lands compulsorily and irrigation facilities to lands sanctioned through Ganga Kalyana scheme.


The devadasis should be provided an assistance of Rs 30,000 immediately to start their self-employment programmes. About 75 per cent of the amount sanctioned to them should be in the form of subsidy and 25 per cent as soft long-term loan. The devadasis should be provided vocational training by Women and Child Welfare department.


The convention decided to hold a week-long dharna in front of the Vidhana Soudha in Bangalore from March 13 to 18 to bring pressure on the government to implement these demands. (INN)