Sunday, November 28, 2004

5,000 Dalits from State to attend rally

Over 200 activists from various non-governmental organisations working for the rights of Gujarat’s Dalits, Muslims and tribals assembled here for their final state-level consultation before the scheduled World Dignity Forum (WDF) rally in Delhi on December 5.

Zakia Jowher, a senior fellow of ActionAid-India and coordinator of Aman Samuday, said the All-India People’s Rally organised by WDF at Delhi’s Ramlila Maidan on December 5 would be attended by nearly 50,000 Dalits of all faiths and denominations, indigenous people, women, minorities and unorganised workers. "This will be the first such congregation of such a large number of people facing social and economic deprivations of various types in the country. Nearly 5,000 of them will be from Gujartat alone," she said.

ActionAid regional manager Amarjyoti Nayak said in his address that despite Gujarat's industrial and economic prosperity, the state’s Dalits and minorities had remained much below the reach of the general development. "Their low literacy rates, school drop-out rates, poor sex ratio and land ownerships are issues of real concern, which the WDF seeks to address," he said.

As part of the WDF exercises, several initiatives have been made by the NGOs in the forum in various parts of Gujarat in the last three months. The NGOs and organisations include Behavioural Science Centre (BSC), ActionAid, Banaskantha Dalit Sangathan (BDS), Aman Samuday, Lok Adhikar Manch, Saurashtra Dalit Yuva Sangathan, Gujarat Jan Andolan and Gujarat Adivasi Mahasabha. Saturday’s state-level consultations were coordinated by Jowher and BSC director Dinesh Parmar. The speakers at this conference blamed the "right-wing politics" in Gujarat and other Indian states for the underdevelopment of the Dalits and minorities.

Source: The Indian Express, November 28, 2004

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