Speech delivered by Thol. Thirumavalavan,
M.P., and President, Liberation Panthers Party (VCK)
at ‘South Asia Parliamentarians’ Conference on Dalit Concerns’
~Enabling Equity & Inclusion~
on 8th -9th December 2013, in Kathmandu, Nepal
Respected Chairperson Mr. Paul Divakar, Co-chairperson Mr. Yam Bahadur Kisan, Respected Panel Members of this session – Mr. Ranendra Barali, Mr. Ishrafil Alam, Prof. Chung and all other distinguished guests;
Dear Brothers and Sisters, I wish you all the success.
First of all I would like to express my heartfelt thanks to the organizers for giving me this opportunity to share my experiences. Before I start I would like to salute our great warriors who fought for equality for all, in particular Lord Buddha and our great revolutionary leader Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. I also wish to extend my salute to the warrior Mr. Nelson Mandela who dedicated his life for equality.
We believe that Lord Buddha is our spiritual head, saint and equal to God. In my view he was the great warrior who fought against discrimination, which caused pain and sufferings to the human life. The great revolutionary Dr. Ambedkar and Mr. Nelson Mandela also fought against discrimination based on caste and race.
Friends, there are many discriminatory practices that still exist in day to day life but the practice of untouchablity, which causes humiliation is highly prevalent than any other form of discrimination. I can say that the history of racial discrimination is only few hundred years old but the caste based discrimination exists since the age of Lord Buddha which is more than 2500 years old. On the other hand we know Mr. Mandela after a long struggle won the fight against racial discrimination and therefore, the whole world is celebrating his achievements in terms of human dignity today even after his demise.
The practice of “untouchability”, “unapproachability” and “unseeability” exists only in caste based discrimination and not in any other form of discrimination such as discrimination based on race, gender and ethnicity. These practices in turn cause great humiliation to the Dalits. Therefore, this must be eliminated from South Asian countries. In this context, this conference is very essential for all of us. I hope with this gathering a new platform will emerge for the consolidation of Dalits in South Asian Region.
The theme of this conference is – “enabling equity and inclusion”. I strongly, believe that the theme itself states that Dalits must have a stake in the power share at all levels like other citizens.
I would like to draw the attention of this forum to my thoughts with regard to power. Dalits and all other weaker sections are far away from the power centre. We have no power. Actually, we are not aware of power, particularly political power. Only people, who do not have the power, have to suffer from all kinds of discrimination and suppressions by the people who have occupied the power.
We consider that properties such as land, house, money and jewels are the only assets in our life. We do not believe that power is also one of the assets in our life. I must say that, power is not only our legitimate right but also an asset, therefore we have to retrieve the same. In order to reclaim power we need to have reservation in education, employment and politics. Our great revolutionary, Dr. Ambedkar had achieved social justice in India, therefore, we must be grateful to him.
I believe that restoration of political power to Dalits and Adivasis and other marginalized sections is the only way of eliminating discrimination. Reservation or a share in power is nothing but “social justice”, as we call it in India.
Here, I came to know that there is no social justice that is no reservation or power share to the Dalits and Adivasis in Nepal and Bangladesh. It is high time to form a forum of South Asian parliamentarians for Social Justice including Nepal, Bangladesh and all other South Asian countries. This conference has to take initiative in creating a platform for this noble cause.
I wish to further add that it is only because of the policy of social justice that I got the opportunity to become a member of parliament, otherwise the dominant caste people may not have allowed me to get an education or to get into this position in the parliament.
On the other hand, even after a long struggle, Dalit members in the state assemblies and parliament are fighting for bringing new legislations for the welfare of Dalits and implementation of other existing laws. Yet, we have not been able to achieve the results. We are struggling and will have to struggle till the end in order to attain the power.
Finally, I once again wish to say that power is the only instrument for liberating Dalits. It is the only way to eliminate Caste based discrimination.
Friends! Let me finish my deliberation with my party slogan which also talks about equity and inclusion:
Let us get organized, Let us get recognized, Let us get empowered.
[Via Joshua Isaac]