People's Democracy

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


No. 52

December 25, 2011




‘Development of Dalits Necessary

For Nation’s Development’


WITHOUT ensuring the development of dalits, who constitute nearly 18 per cent of nation’s population and play a key role in the production process, the dreams of making India a big power will remain just a pipe-dream. There is also urgent necessity to form a wider, united platform to successfully fight for the rights of this most downtrodden and discriminated section of the society.


This was underscored by speakers at a seminar on ‘Social Justice – Policies of Central and State Governments’ organised by Struggle Committee against Caste Discrimination (KVPS) in Hyderabad on December 18, 2011. The seminar was addressed by CPI(M) Polit Bureau member and KVPS vice president B V Raghavulu, Tamilnadu Untouchability Eradication Front (TNUEF) general secretary K Samuel Raj, Centre for Dalit Studies president Professor K Satyanarayana and KVPS general secretary John Wesley, who also conducted the proceedings.


Raghavulu in his address asserted that without eradicating the caste system in the country, India cannot progress despite making advances in IT, or any other sector, because it is the caste system that breeds disrespect for labour and causes low productivity. He said nations that gave more or less equal access to all in terms of education, health, land etc have progressed much ahead than our nation and cited China, Japan, Malaysia.


The horrible living conditions of dalits in the country can be improved by fighting for proper implementation of sub plan that ensures the share of dalits in central and state budgets. Raghavulu said apart from myriad forms of discriminations that dalits face in their everyday life, they have to also contend with the developmental discrimination of governments. He doubted the commitment of central and state governments in ensuring the welfare of dalits and detailed how funds under sub plan were being diverted for building flyovers, beautifying lakes etc. A nodal agency to oversee the implementation of sub plan was achieved in Andhra Pradesh after a long struggle. But even that is being undermined practically.


Given the pace with which neo-liberal policies are being implemented, the existing reservations for dalits and tribals would not suffice unless they are complemented by reservations in the private sector, said Raghavulu. He stressed the need to wage struggles on this demand in the coming period. He concluded by calling for united struggles to force the governments to take measures to ensure speedy development of dalits. The coming period of budget making should be used to mount pressure on state and central governments to concede proper share for dalits and tribals in the budgets.


Samuel Raj in his speech acknowledged that the glorious struggles of KVPS and its achievements have inspired the TNUEF to carry forward the struggle in Tamilnadu. He detailed the conditions of dalits in Tamilnadu, where they face around 82 forms of discrimination as was revealed in the survey conducted by TNUEF. The situation is so bad that recently one dalit was killed for daring to dig a grave to cremate a fellow dalit in the common burial ground. The TNUEF is rendering help to the victim’s family in fighting the case. Even those educated dalits who had returned from Gulf area for holidays are being forced to perform demeaning rituals along with rest of dalits in the villages. In Pudukkottai district, a dalit sister wanted to enter the temple by acting as if she was in a state of prance. Yet she was prevented from entering the temple. He detailed the struggles being waged by TNUEF in the state against all forms of discrimination against dalits in access to common usage facilities like roads, wells, temples, toilets etc.


Samuel Raj detailed the positive response to the Dr Ambedkar Coaching Centres being run in eleven centres by the Front with help from AIIEA. After the demolition of Utthapuram untouchability wall, against which CPI(M) general secretary Prakash Karat also took part in the agitation, the Front is concentrating on demolition of other such walls, he said. He spoke of the repression unleashed by the state government against the leaders of TNUEF and CPI(M), including against elected representatives of the Party. Undeterred, the organisation has chalked up plans to conduct militant struggle in the coming period for fighting against discrimination and for reclaiming lands of dalits that have been encroached or usurped. The demand of proper implementation of sub plan would also be taken up in a big way, he said.


Professor Satyanarayana expressed concern at how dalits were being kept away from education and health. He appreciated the role of CPI(M) in championing the issues of dalits and tribals at all levels, including all India.


John Wesley told the audience about the recent national convention held by the CPI(M) at Delhi on the sub plan issue. A nationwide movement on sub plan is being launched which would also include a March to Parliament before the budget session of parliament.