Dalit groups resent Govt. stand on caste
By Our Special Correspondent
HYDERABAD, JUNE 1. Dalit leaders and organisations in Andhra Pradesh are unhappy that the Government of India has taken a stand before world fora in the context of the coming world conference against racism at Durban that caste is different from race.
They insist that caste is very much like race in the Indian context as far as discrimination is concerned. The leaders and organisations are meeting on June 3 under the leadership of the All-India Christian Council and such other voluntary bodies to formulate a consensus against the Central Government's view and submit a memorandum to that effect to the committee constituted by the Ministry of External Affairs which itself is meeting here the next day to `elicit support' for the view.
Mr. K. Sam Paul, secretary for the council, told The Hindu here today that their meeting would be attended by Prof. Kancha Ilaiah who authored ``Why I am not a Hindu'' dealing with Dalit problems like untouchability and social discrimination, Mr. K. G. Kannabiran, prominent civil liberties leader, Mr. Krishna Madiga and Mr. P. V. Rao, presidents respectively of the Madiga Reservation Porata Samiti and Mala Mahanadu, the organisations representing the two prominent SC castes - Madiga and Mala, and Mr. Paturi Ramaiah of Kula Vyatireka Porata Samiti, former CPI(M) floor leader in the Assembly, and a number of other leaders.
Mr. Paul said, Mr. John Dayal, secretary-general for the council, would be attending the Hyderabad meeting of the External Affairs Ministry committee as an invitee. He would present the Dalit viewpoint at the meeting and it would be supplemented by the memorandum.
He said those discriminated on caste grounds were also mobilising public opinion against the Government of India's stand. They would directly present their view at the Durban meeting slated from August 28 to September 1 if they could go or send messages to that effect. The Dalits hoped the Durban conference would adopt resolutions against discrimination on casteist or racial grounds bringing about a qualitative change in their lives.