Saturday, October 20, 2007

Rights before responsibilities

'Rights before welfare' is not the answer P N BENJAMIN Source: Deccan Herald 29/10/2004 Type: Website English Keywords: 'Rights before welfare' is not the answer Sir, A rights-based government approach (DH, Oct 22) is not the answer to tackle atrocities against Dalits. It won't help Dalits, but will provide job opportunities for "Dalit brokers" and brokerage houses calling themselves "activists" and "NGOs". Nowhere in the world have prejudices been eradicated by government fiat or by goodwill. The real protection of the Dalits lies in their being organised and led in active mass movement committed to awaken and activate them in defence of their interests. The Dalits themselves must learn to fight caste prejudices effectively. In addition, there must be a willingness on the part of the enlightened citizens to fight along with the wretched of the Indian society. This will offer the only valid answer to the continuing discrimination against Dalits. It is unfortunate that the Dalit political groups are totally disorganised today. Education has only led to the emergence of a Dalit elite class, which has slowly distanced itself from agitational Dalit politics. Dalit movements have either been absorbed within mainstream parties or else have degenerated into negative militancy. The deification of Dr Ambedkar by putting up statues in every village appears to have taken precedence over any fight for equal rights. Caught up in factional politics, and bereft of any ideology, the present day Dalit leaders are unwilling to disturb the existing caste equations. These self-seeking status quoists have only aided in pushing the outcasts out of our society, out of the mainstream. Dalit politicians holding very high political posts have in practice proved to be 'Uncle Toms' because of the compulsions of the Indian polity. P N BENJAMIN, Bangalore

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