Will be circulated among all the political parties fielding candidates in polls

The Centre for Dalit Studies (CDS) here released an eight-page ‘Dalit and Adivasi Agenda’, a manifesto containing demands from people across 22 different areas, to be circulated among all political parties fielding candidates in the coming elections.

At a press conference on Wednesday, former IAS officers — Kaki Madhava Rao and K.R. Venugopal — said the manifesto was prepared by a working group of concerned citizens and experts. They said the thrust of the document was on core issues that needed to be included in the political agenda during the elections, as the timing could not be any better.

Mr. Venugopal said that it gave people the opportunity to raise some pertinent questions. He lauded the CDS initiative and said it would go a long way in helping improve the lot of the weaker sections.

Mr. Madhava Rao said the manifesto was a result of a brainstorming process and based on feedback received from people at large. An important point was people’s wish as to who they would prefer as leaders.

Senior journalist Mallepalli Laxmaiah and CDS secretary Y.B. Satyanarayana said among the main demands in the agenda were free and compulsory education from kindergarten to post-graduate for Dalits and Adivasis, conversion of all existing SC/ST welfare hostels into residential schools and reservation of seats for SCs and STs in all private educational institutions with fee reimbursement, apart from government bearing students’ full mess charges in college/university hostels and periodic enhancement of scholarships in tune with the price rise.

On the employment front, the agenda demanded that reservations be introduced in private sector too, in line with the existing reservation system in the government departments. As for health, it sought strengthening of primary health centres, labs and diagnostic facilities, supply of essential medicines free of cost and provision of additional nutritional supplements like milk, eggs and pulses to children five years of age and for pregnant and lactating women too.