Untouchability included in NGOs' declaration

Chandra Bhan Prasad/Durban

While the convention centre here at Durban is yet to recover from shock after US and Israeli withdrawal, the UN World NGO forum has released its final declaration.

Mr Pal N Divakar, Convenor of the National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights spearheading the Dalit cause, was in a hilarious mood on Tuesday as the three-year long battle has ultimately bore fruits. The 76-page document is adopted by the UN accredited NGOs from all over the world, who had concluded their five days World NGO Conference on 1st of this month. The ongoing World Inter-Governmental Conference currently underway will adopt their own declaration, and will submit it to the UN.

Once this exercise is over, the UN will deliberate upon boththe documents, and accept or reject claims and counter-claims of the governments and NGOs.

Since in this phase of deliberations, governments view points prevail, the things in the convention centre has turned into a virtual Panchayati Raj election where the governments and NGOs are seen canvassing for support from the member countries.

The declaration contains a Charter and Programme of action. The clause 52 of the Charter states: the caste system discriminates against and enables segregation of communities on the basis of work and descent, such as Dalits in South Asia, the Buraku people of Japan, the Osu and Oru people of Nigeria and the Griots of Senegal.

The caste issue has been accorded such an importance here that another seven Cluases (84-90) detailing viciousness of the practice of untouchability and Dalits exclusion are added in the final declaration. The Clause 86 states: the system of hidden apartheid based on caste practices of distinction, exclusion, and restrictions denies Dalits enjoyment of their economic, social, political, cultural and religious rights.

In the Programme of Action part, a total of eleven clauses have been devoted to the question of caste and work-descent based discrimination, calling governments of South Asia (read India, Nepal, Sri Lanka) to launch newer policies, enact newer legislations to put an end to the historical wrongs.

Meanwhile, about one hundred Dalit delegates have left Durban for India on Tuesday as the inter-governmental lobbying requires fewer people. The were accorded a warm farewell on Monday evening. The Pioneer staffer Dr Vivek Kumar too has left for India.

Meanwhile, it is reliably learnt that the Government of India's delegation is trying to reach at a compromise formula with the Dalit camp, but neither of the parties are prepared to admit or deny the move.

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Referred by:Benjamin P Kaila
Published on:5 Sep, 2001
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