Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Marginalized Indians Rally for Rights

Jayashree Maji and Rajiv Tikoo

New Delhi: It was a capital rally literally. Thousands of Dalits (oppressed people), tribals, workers and women assembled in Indian capital New Delhi on the World Dignity Day on December 5 raising demands for securing their human rights. The participants demanded the right to work, livelihood, food, health and education.

The convenor of the World Dignity Forum, Ashok Bharti, said: "What was more significant than voicing our demands was the fact that the marginalized sections signalled that they are willing to take on the existing political dispensation if their rights are not granted."

Enactment of a comprehensive legislation for unorganised laborers and artisans and job reservation for Dalits in the private sector in the country also figured amongst the demands. A member of the National Conference for Dalit Women, Kanta, said: "We want the private sector to provide job reservation to Dalits. The right to employment is one of our key demands."

The participants also demanded that Dalits among Muslims and Christians be designated as scheduled castes and wanted an end to the eviction of forest dwellers from their habitat.

Said Ashok Choudhary, national convenor, National Forum for Forest People and Forest Workers, "Through this rally we want to convey that all the marginalized sections can work together and fight for their dignity. It is difficult to fight individually." Added P Chennaiah, secretary, national coordination, Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Viritidarulu Union: "The conference drove home the point that the marginalized groups are not alone. They are a big group collectively and in a position to fight for their cause."

The next stage involves evaluating and analysing the event and formulating a strategy and action plan. That may be a matter of great deliberation, though. In the mean time the work at the grassroots level is going on. Elaborated Mukul Sharma, who is also a national convenor of the World Dignity Forum: "We will strengthen our regional processes by mobilization as well as advocacy and also prepare for participation in the World Social Forum 2005."

The World Dignity Forum 2004 was organized by the World Dignity Forum, which is dedicated to fighting against racism, discrimination and exclusion based on caste, class, race, color, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexuality and disability. The forum comprises of organisatiozs from all over India and includes the National Conference of Dalit Organisations, the National Forum for Forest People and Forest Workers, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, All India Pasmanda Muslim Mahaz, National Campaign Committee for Construction Workers, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, Andhra Pradesh Vruthidarula Union and Lok Shakti Shangathan.

There were also reports from other like countries like Nepal about similar rallies advocating the cause of the marginalized groups on the occasion of the World Dignity Day.

Source: Oneworld.net, December 08, 2004

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