From margins to mainstream

Dr Ambedkar

Its celebration time for Karnataka. The 125th birth anniversary of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar gives us more than one reason for celebration. Not only was Ambedkar the man, who placed us on the path of liberty, fraternity and equality, the biggest contribution of Ambedkar to our society has been, to give us a state which is constitutionally committed to the principle of secularism. Unfortunately, the national ruling party, the BJP has given a call to the Dalits for “samrasta”, or harmony, without showing the slightest commitment to social equality.

The BJP’s only contribution to the caste situation in the country has been bringing the nation on the thrall of medievalism. Two teenaged girls were raped and their dead bodies hung on a tree in the most barbaric manner, in Badaun district of Uttar Pradesh in 2014. While the courts, the local establishment and the ruling BJP continues to deny even the most basic right to justice to the dalit girls! Rohith Vemulla, a young scholar in Hyderabad University was pushed to the brink of suicide by a government which refused to give him scholarship and even after his institution-driven-suicide, continues to deny the Dalits any reprieve or hope for justice.

In a state of affairs where Dalits are denied even the most basic rights to equal justice and a life with dignity, the ruling BJP should quit talk of ‘samrasta’. Harmony can only be established when there is barabari or equality. In order to create real opportunities for equality, the Siddaramaiah led Karnataka government has taken many measures.

Long term policies like allocation of Rs. 40, 800 Crore for all departments under SCSP and TSP sub plans from 2014-16 is aimed at building capacities. While short-term measures like the easy loan policy of increasing the borrowing limit from Rs. 5 crore to 10 crore, at the interest rate of 4 per cent will boost entrepreurship among the Dalits.

Without any promise of social justice, or efforts towards creating equality, the call for harmony is a call to the Dalits to remain relegated to the margins! The Karnataka government has shown that beyond the personal identity of the leader, social justice lies in creating policy level changes, to bring those pushed to the margins, to the mainstream.

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