Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Workshop on Dalit Issues

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आसमानों से कहो अब तो ज़मीं को देखें
ये ज़मीं करवटें लेती है की बेदार है आज!
(अनवर नदीम)

Open Space organised a workshop on Dalit issues on 20th September, 2008 at Nari Shiksha Niketan Post Graduate College (an affiliate college of the University of Lucknow), which was conducted by Parul Jaitly, Fellow, Indian Council for Historical Research and Guest Faculty, University of Lucknow, who spoke on the emergence of the term 'Dalit' and then presented a slide show on the condition of Dalits in modern India. After which she indulged in a lively discusion with the students on the issues concerning Dalits, with the aim of making them conscious of how they discriminate against Dalits in their daily lives , quite often unknowingly. Dalit literally means "crushed" or "ground down", and was first used in its present sense in the 30s to refer to the oppressed sections of Indian society, as a Marathi and Hindi translation for the English term "Depressed Classes", used by the British in India for these people. These people are also called Scheduled Castes, Ex-Untouchables (that is what they have been in the evil traditional caste order) and Harijan. but Dalit remains the mostly widely accepted of all, though not uncontested. The term Dalit emerged in the '70s as a symbol of the new militant movement of the oppressed, with the formation of the Dalit Panthers in Maharashtra, the Dalit Sangharsh Samiti in Karnataka, and many others. It certainly is shameful for a country that is proud of being the world's largest democracy that a section of its population , the Dalits continue to be oppressed and discriminate against, even if on a smaler scale , in spite of all kinds of laws for the protection of their rights. The workshop was attended by about one hundred and fifty students. Many faculty members were also present on the occasion, viz., Dr. Sunita Singh of the Department of Education, Dr. Vandana Upreti of the Department of Political Science and Dr. Meena Kala of the Department of Economics.

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