'Exclusion of creamy layer to affect Dalits' devp'

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New Delhi, Nov 12: Social activist and winner of alternate Nobel prize Ruth Manorama said the recent Supreme Court's judgement of excluding creamy layer among the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes would have an adverse impact on socially oppressed section of the people.

''The entrenched social oppression suffered by Dalits for hundreds of years cannot be overcome by reservation for just five generations. They have suffered from social exclusion and marginalisation at the hands of upper castes who usurped their resources,'' Ms Manorama, a prominent activist participating in the ongoing Indian Social Forum, told UNI.

She asserted reservation have been granted to the Scheduled Castes and Tribes on the basis of social and educational backwardness and not on the basis of economic criteria so ''creamy layer concept is irrational.'' Moreover, the benefits of reservation has now started trickling down so they should not be deprived of benefits.

Ms Manorama said Dalits have suffered from atrocities for generations and their human rights have been violated which must be reddressed. Dalits in villages depend on land for livelihood, which have been taken away during all these years, should be returned back by the upper castes who have crushed these downtrodden people. Dalits must be provided violence free atmosphere and given other resources, she asserted.

Moreover, when the upper castes could benefit from eudcational and social facilities for centuries, how could Dalit come at par with them in just over 50 years, she wondered. This was especially when all the good educational institutions have come into private sector and out of the reach of Dalits.

''The government must address the poverty, deprivation and discrimination being faced by Dalits and redress their human rights violation, atrocities and inequities being suffered by them. Dalits should be provided equal opportunities and not only menial jobs and manual scavenging as is happening today,'' said Ms Manorama, who got the alternative Nobel prize for bringing the cause of Dalits, who suffer from social discrimination and oppression, to the forefront.

She lamented the government had no effective strategy for poverty alleviation among Dalits except the newly-launched National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme under which 100-day wage employment is being provided to the needy. She said the issue of employment must be addressed seriously and for this reservation in both private and public sector was necessary.

Asserting that menial jobs like manual scavenging and bonded labour has only been removed on paper, the activist said Dalit women had also suffered from the oppressive ''Devadasi system'' in which women were first dedicated to temple service and then forced into prostitution. Though initially even upper caste women were dedicated to temple, now-a-days only Dalit women are forced into prostitution under the garb of the age-old system.

Welcoming the recent Prevention of Domestic Violence Act, 2005, Ms Manorama said the Act which had come into effect following a long-lasting struggle by the Indian women would help them in their protection from violence of all kinds--physical, mental and emotional.

Urging women to use the law ''ruthlessly,'' she said it would protect them from various kinds of atrocities being suffered in a patriarchal society. She said women needed to fight to assert their rights both within the family and the society and the new Act would help them in this regard. She also dismissed the apprehensions expressed by some men that the law could be misused.

Regarding the Womens' Reservation Bill, Ms Manorama said if India did not want to become a defunct democracy then the women must get 33 per cent reservation in Parliament and State Assemblies. Women need to struggle to get the Bill passed by making the people to understand their concerns, she added.


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