Dalit-Princeton Meet On India's Marginalised...

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New Delhi, Oct 25 (UNI) American and Irish experts will join Indian counterparts tomorrow to discuss social exclusion suffered by India's ''marginalised sections,'' it was announced today.

Human Resource Development Minister Arjun Singh will open the 2-day Conference on Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy set for October 26-27, an HRD Ministry statement said.

The event being organised by the New Delhi-based Indian Institute of Dalit Studies is co-sponsored by US-based Princeton University, with Planning Commission member Balachandra Mungekar as guest of honour.

Participants will focus on social exclusion and discrimination suffered by marginalised Indians, specifically the scheduled castes and tribes, other backward classes, religious minorities such as Muslims and similar groups.

The Ministry statement said Indian society is characterised by social exclusion and discrimination of a number of social and cultural groups ''due to their social identity.'' It said ''this is the first conference of its kind which will discuss through presentation of papers the economic discrimination faced by discriminated groups in various market and non market transactions.'' The discussions will cover ''employment market in rural and urban areas, occupation and business, various factors market, services, and also education and health,'' it said.

Experts promise to bring ''original research and... new insight'' on market and non market discrimination, it said.

Highlights include labour market discrimination on which the two co-sponsors-- Dalit Institute and the Ivy campus-- are reported to have jointly produced four studies.

Participants will take up labour market and occupational discrimination in rural areas of Haryana, Orissa and Gujarat.

They will also cover dalits' discriminatory experiences in educational institutions and health services, including primary health centres and private doctors.

The conference will go into ''inequality in ownership of private enterprise by lower caste and higher castes (and) discrimination faced by religious groups such as Muslims in economic spheres.'' With new insights, the participants will discuss policies to overcome discrimination, centring on inclusiveness in employment, education, health, business and other spheres of public and private sectors, the statement said.

The statement described the conference as an event ''of significant importance'' inasmuch as it will address a problem faced by a vast section of Indians and being debated in academic and government circles.

Indian authorities have reduced the issue essentially to a matter of reserving seats for the backward in jobs or education.

A recent move by HRD Minister Singh sparked protests by students inducing experts to suggest increasing college seats by the number reserved.

The exercise, put on hold while courts adjudicate, has been dubbed by some e-critics ''another classical example of vote bank politics.'' UNI

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