The prevalence of consolidation of low caste men , on caste lines to protest against the caste based discrimination in different parts of the world, particularly in South Asia has raised hopes and aspirations for low caste Hindus .in India. known as 'dalits'. And low caste men in India have started asserting and moving for bigger rights in India. Many important personalities including Mahatma Gandhi, Dr B R Ambedkar and a number of Indian right organisations had launched campaign to support dalits for being discriminated and living in India in apartheid conditions since pre-independence days. Dalits are not only beginning discriminated but taken in low stock by feudal mindset landlords, Upper caste men, and rich people!Two important factors of the recent past----the speech of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, Meera Kumar, also a former Indian Foreign Service( IFS) official and daughter of veteran dalit leader and former Deputy Prime Minister, Babu Jagjivan Ram, in the Cambridge University on "elections and the factors that influence voting" and a powerful resolution of the Parliament of the European Union (EU) against caste based discrimination in South Asian countries like India, Nepal and Sri Lanka---have amply substantiated that caste-based politics is the need of hour to fight against discrimination and also get lever of power in the governance.
Notwithstanding many measures, like reservation of seats in Parliament and state legislatures and in services as well as reservation in job to backward classes to them, enunciated in the Indian Constitution, since independence, have been initiated for equal rights to all Indian without any discrimination, discrimination of dalits continued in India. Since their assertions in caste-based politics and vote their caste men, in elections in India have started giving dividends to them in asserting their rights. In her speech in the Cambridge University Lecture recently, Meera Kumar has pointed out that dalits' "preferences on the ballot, there was positive belief that consolidation on caste-lines was leading to empowerment of dalits as it gave them opportunity to assert themselves." Besides caste,she slammed the importance "that religion plays in elections" Reiterating that caste "decides a voter's preference in India ,she, however, said , in her speech, that now "it is high time the caste system was destroyed completely" Kumar further has said in her speech, "generally the deciding factor is the case, which is discussed in hushed tones behind closed door ......caste system has caused and is continuing to cause unimaginable harm to the society. It needs to be destroyed completely and not encouraged to tighten its grip in our electoral system."
In a related major development, The EU's Parliament, which has recently discussed caste-based discrimination, has passed a resolution endorsing the views of the campaigners from South Asia about discrimination and decided to push the agenda in the ensuing at the trade talks between the EU and countries like India, Nepal and Sri Lanka, where discrimination are very rampant. ( India's lowest caste, such as dalits, are often forced into dangerous work, despite a number of affirmative action initiatives) Speakers in the debate were critical of current EU commitments for tackling caste discrimination. The EU commissioner Cecilia Malmstorm told Parliament that the issue is "being tackled, MEPs disagreed". Alf Svensson, of the European People's Party group said, " I do not really agree that this is put on the agenda quite often." Michael Cashman, of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats, said " if we have all these EU instruments and 260 million people still suffer caste discrimination, we are failing."
Jean Lambert, an MEP for the Green Party in the U K , who has been involved with campaigning on behalf of dalits for several years, says, "it will not be easy to move from a resolution to practical action. It is going to be tough to get anything into trade agreements....It is always a battle to get human rights in , especially some thing as specific as this, but certainty in some programmes in the affected countries we will already be looking at the impact on the most deprived, and that would include dalits." To move towards action, she says, " parliamentarians have to better understand caste issues so they can keep them in mind when they travel on business, trade and development trips. You would have to make sure that the people, who are going from the European Parliament are really briefed to ask about this. They need to know what to ask and who to ask, so awareness-raising is important; seeing it as a human right issue. We are all required to raise issues of human rights."
ILO SURVEY:-In the meantime, the International Labour Organisation (ILO) estimates that overwhelming majority of bonded labour victims in South Asia are from lower castes, with forced and bonded labour particularly widespread in the agriculture, mining and garment production sectors. Surprisingly, some of these companies involved in these sectors supply [products to multinationals. Many countries of South Asia have launched awareness campaign against discrimination and atrocity against lower caste men. Caste system are very much common in south-east Asia, Campaigners estimate 260 million people around the world are affected. Caste divides people into social groupings; those in the lowest caste are regarded as unclean and are forced into unpleasant and dangerous work. They are put to live in slavery with landlords and feudal, Manjula Pradeedp of India Right Organisation-Navsarjan-point out ,"you are born as a sub-caste within dalits, given the caste identity and an occupation linked to that caste. If I belong to this caste, the first work that is forced upon me is cleaning human excrement with my hands and to carry it my heads. People are not able to get out of this slavery. India is seen as a large democracy, but it would not address these people should do this work; it is mind-set."
Campaigners from India have welcomed the EU initiatives, particularly discrimination against low-caste Hindus, known as dalits at such high -level forum. Pradeep says, " when we started the process of lobbying the European Parliament in 2007 we had to explain what (caste discrimination) was. Now, we do not have to say what it means to be dalit, so it is reward, but we stll have to do a lot of work." Confirming India's affirmative action programmes to support dalits, Pradeep says ,"some inbuilt prejudices are coming in the way of long-term methodology to tackle the situation.When we were listening to the statements of European Parliament, I thought about my own members of Parliament and I wonder if they are ready to speak on this issue. Very few are ready....they do not want to address it at a larger level, most often these issues related to caste have never been addressed at a national level in our country "
Pradeep Says, "the EU result is in the positive direction and the result is beginning of recognition that caste-based discrimination can be tackled internationally as well as at domestic level. Non-recognition of dalits and their rights is a challenge to all of us. The Indian government has failed to protect the rights of people who have been living in a situation that is like apartheid . That process has happen in our country, ultimately, it has to happen on the ground. But when you do not get support from your own government, you need to address it internationally. It is not a local issue, it is global issue."
REFERENCES:- WEBSITES OF THE EU, THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES OF INDIA, THE ILO, THE GOVT OF INDIA, THE PARLIAMENT, THE CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY