Much needs to be done to empower Dalits: Sonia

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Kochi, Feb 14 (UNI) Reiterating the Centre's commitment to uplift the oppressed sections of the society, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi today said '' much more needs to be done on this front as the Dalit community continues to face atrocities and discrimination in various parts of the country.'' Addressing a mammoth gathering after inaugurating the centenary celebrations, organised by Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS), of the first liberation struggle led by Ayyankali, Ms Sonia said the UPA government had initiated various programmes giving stress to education and reservation for the marginalised sections of the society.

She said through the special recruitment drive for the people belonging to SC/ST, the government had been able to fill around 50,000 vacancies in the public sector.

Ms Gandhi, who reached here this afternoon on a two-day visit to the State, said the government had set up a co-ordination committee to ensure employment opportunities for Dalit candidates in the private sector.

She said a Bill had been introduced in Parliament to provide statutory status for reservations in the government sector for Dalits and the self-employment scheme for scavengers would be completed in the next two years.

'' The government had also given approval for setting up 2,000 new 'Kasturba Vidyalayas' to provide free education to girls upto eight standard,'' she said.

Stressing the need to provide education, the government had also launched the 'Rajiv Gandhi Fellowships'', which would be given to students from the Dalit community pursuing professional and doctoral porgrammes.

Hailing the efforts of Ayyankali, Ms Sonia said '' the vision of the great man was instrumental in empowering the dalit community through education.'' Visionaries like Ayyankali and Narayana Guru rewrote the social history of Kerala, she added.

UNI MA KVV MSJ KN2040

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