Special Correspondent

"The annihilation of castes alone can bring about social justice"

CHENNAI: A mass movement of Dalits is essential for their liberation, and reservation is not a charity but their born right, said speakers at a seminar held here on Saturday.

Communist Party of India secretary D. Raja said reservation was a long-drawn battle, and the fight had to be continued till the Dalits achieved their rights. Reservation was not a permanent solution to the problems of the Dalits, but an interim one. As long as the society was divided on caste lines, it was difficult for the Dalits to get social justice. The annihilation of castes alone could bring them social justice. Real liberation could be achieved only if the Dalits wielded political power.

Describing those who opposed reservation as "neo-fascists," Mr. Raja said their argument that reservation would merit was a myth. Many public sector undertakings, in which thousands of Dalits were employed, were making profits. Privatisation of the public sector undertakings would deprive the Dalits of employment opportunities.

National unity could not be achieved by suppressing a majority of people, said N. Ram, Editor-in-Chief, The Hindu , while speaking on "Reservation-Social Justice and National Unity."

He said suppression of a majority of people was much more dangerous than separatist movements. He wondered how India could become a developed country with so much of inequality and when a majority of the people were living in deprivation.

Indian Constitution, he said, made provision for reservation for the Scheduled Castes and Tribes first for a limited period, which was being extended from time to time. This itself showed the distance between promise and reality. On paper, the country could be proud of many things in the Constitution, but in reality it was different. Again converted Dalits were being denied benefits and concessions now being enjoyed by the Hindu Dalits though as per the principle of equality, people should not be discriminated against on the basis of religion.

Now reservation for those who had been deprived had been accepted by all political parties. Despite obstacles, reservation had made a big change but much more had to be achieved for ensuring social justice at all levels, he said.

Viduthalai Rajendran, who spoke on "Periyar and Reservation for Dalits," said Tamil Nadu was in the forefront of the fight for reservation for the Dalits and backward classes. He said a mass movement of the Dalits in support of social justice was the need of the hour.