CHENNAI: Social liberation of Dalits is possible only through their education. With the government providing free education, they should take full advantage of it, the Tamil Nadu Adi-Dravidar Welfare Minister, A.Thamizharasi, said on Thursday.
Speaking at a two-day national seminar on “Human rights and Dalits: issues and strategies,” organised by the Indian History department of Madras University, she said awareness about one’s rights was possible through education. Besides educating themselves they should share their knowledge with others for the overall development of the community. She called upon the youth in particular to realise the importance of education. Considering this aspect, the Tamil Nadu Government had allocated more funds for education and also extended financial assistance. Due to such efforts the pass percentage in Standards X and XII had gone up, the Minister said.
The Higher Education Minister, K. Ponmudy, who inaugurated the programme, said more than laws and courts, there was a need for an attitudinal change in the people to eradicate untouchability. Presenting a historic interpretation of the subject, he said Dalits should fight for their rights with organisational support.
General secretary of the Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi, Thol.Thirumavalavan, reminded Dalits that B.R. Ambedkar had said that their social liberation was possible only when they get political power. Democratic rights would be better appreciated by people only if they understood the quality of humaneness and had the tendency to treat all as human beings without discrimination.
Dalits had the problem of access to enjoy their rights. Collectivism was denied to them. They were struggling to assert their rights, said the Social Reforms Secretary, Christudoss Gandhi. Empowering would enable them to enjoy their rights.
A former Member of the State Human Rights Commission, K. Swamidurai, said there were loopholes in the Protection of Human Rights Act. One was with regard to setting up of Human Rights Commissions in the States. The other was that the Commissions could only make recommendations to the government.
Vice-Chancellor of Madras University S. Ramachandran felt that the nation could not really progress unless Dalits developed on a par with other sections of society.