A road-map for liberation

Print edition : December 29, 2006

A road-map for Dalit emancipation was drawn up by this writer in 1996 in the form of a Dalit manifesto. Various other documents, including the Report of the National Commission to Review the Working of the Constitution (NCRWC) (2002) the Bhopal Declaration (2002), have also been prepared . All these were subsumed in the Himalaya Proclamation that this writer formulated in 2005.

The first step is that all political parties and Union and State governments should understand the feelings of intense resentment, despair and alienation among Dalits and realise that further delay, inadequacies, equivocations and sleights of hand in addressing their issues would lead to adverse consequences for the country.

Any action plan for Dalit emancipation should have the following components:

* Revitalisation of the Special Component Plan (SCP) through a network of institutions that would plan for the development of the Scheduled Castes on the basis of their needs and priorities; these should include national and State development authorities;

* Setting aside a proportion of total Plan outlay equivalent to the population of the S.C.s as a corpus of the SCP, which could be used for drawing up relevant and effective programmes and schemes by respective Ministries/Departments with powers to monitor, supervise and correct the programmes.

* Specific programmes, including a comprehensive national programme of minor irrigation, which would ensure water for all irrigable lands of the S.Cs; measures to ensure land for every landless S.C. family and develop this land fully [a commitment made in the Common Minimum Programme (CMP) of the United Progressive Alliance government and, earlier, the United Front government];

* Effective enforcement of agricultural minimum wages;

* Legislation to regulate the unorganised labour sector;

* High-quality residential schools for the S.Cs in every district; reservation in all higher educational institutions on the basis of the 93rd Amendment to the Constitution;

* Continuation and satisfactory implementation of all existing Centrally Sponsored Schemes (CSS) and other instrumentalities of development of the S.Cs;

* Sincere and thorough implementation of the Protection of Civil Rights Act and the Prevention of Atrocities Act to stamp out "untouchability" and put an end to "atrocities" and amendments to remove their deficiencies;

* Thorough implementation of the policy of reservation and special tribunals to ensure the enforcement of reservation; reservation in private sector;

* Complete liberation of safai karamcharis from manual scavenging without extending the time-limit for putting an end to scavenging; rehabilitation of safai karamcharis.

All these measures are within the competence of the Central and State governments if they are sincere in their commitment to social justice.

P.S. Krishnan

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