People's Democracy

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


No. 34

August 23, 2009



 CPI(M) Holds Study Class on Dalit Issue





CLASS struggle and the struggle against caste oppression are not contradictory; they should not be counterposed to each other. This was what the CPI (M) Polit Bureau member K Varadha Rajan said in while inaugurating a two-day state level study class on dalit issues at Gangavati in Koppal district of Karnataka.

The study class took place on August 14 and 15.

Even after 60 years of independence, Varadha Rajan said, dalits have not been able to reap the fruits of development. Caste discrimination, atrocities on dalits and the practice of untouchability go on uninterruptedly. A survey, recently conducted, found that 148 types of untouchability are practised in Tamilnadu. So much so that dalits were not allowed to keep male dogs lest they mix with female dogs belonging to the upper castes and thus pollute them, their owners and the owners’ culture!

When some organisations raised this issue with the administrative officials in a district, the deputy commissioner (and later the chief minister) expressed ignorance that they were not aware of this practice. During the struggle which took up this issue, about 50  people were arrested.

It was the CPI(M) which collected money, bought male dogs and distributed them among dalit people.

K Varadha Rajan also recalled the case of Uttampuram where untouchability exists in the form of a wall. When the CPI(M) announced in May 2008 that its general secretary, Prakash Karat, would come and destroy the wall, the government destroyed the wall a day before the scheduled programme. When the issue was raised before the district collector and other government officials, they sang the same song --- that they were not aware of the wall.

According to the statistics provided by the government of India, 75 per cent of dalits depend on agriculture. Out of them, 50 per cent are landless labourers and 25 per cent have only small plots of land. India’s total dalit population is 16.6 crores, of which only 13 lakhs are working in the government sector. Out of 13 lakhs, moreover, only 72,000 are grade A and B officers while 1.31 lakhs are sanitary workers.

Even after 60 years of independence, the living conditions of dalit people have not improved significantly. The government announced that 177 districts are affected by draught which includes 86 taluks from Karnataka. The dalits are most affected in drought affected districts.

The most affected section of the government’s LPG polices is dalit population, Varadha Rajan said. In the matter of literacy also, dalits are significantly behind the national average. While the national average is 65 per cent, literacy rate among the dalits is only 48 per cent.

Com.K.V.concluded that in order to fight these social and economical injustice and inequalities we have to strengthen our people’s democratic movement. Reservation is not the only solution for dalit emancipation. It needs fight against landlords.

The speaker recounted the testimony of states like West Bengal, Tripura and Kerala where effective land reforms have taken place, as a result whereof atrocities against dalits have been reduced significantly. Wherever there is a strong democratic movement, caste oppression has come to the zero level.

The CPI(M)’s Karnataka state secretariat member Maruthi Manpade, while introducing the topic, said that budget allocation for dalits is not spent completely. Only 37 per cent of the allocated amount is spent.

After the BJP took office in Karnataka, atrocities against dalits have increased in a large measure and the cases of anti-dalit atrocities are not getting registered in the police stations. There is also a direction from the government not to register such cases. In order to fight this, we have to build the movement through out Karnataka.

The Karnataka state secretariat member and former MLA, G V Sriram Reddy, presided over the inaugural session. He said the roots of social inequality and caste discrimination lie in the economical inequality; so both have to be fought simultaneously. He said that the class struggle and the struggle against caste oppression are inextricably linked.

The CPI(M)’s Koppal district committee member, Hulgappa, welcomed the gathering while district secretary R K Desai proposed the vote of thanks. Representing 21district units of the party, a total of 140 delegates participated in the study class. CPI(M) state secretary and Central Committee member, V J K Nair, and many state secretariat members also participated in the two-day camp.