Wednesday, December 23, 2009

[ZESTCaste] Read the latest interview of one of the leading Dalit activists Manjula Pradeep from Gujarat at


"Why the Dalits only should take the entire burden and responsibility in fighting against caste system?"

An Interview with Manjula Pradeep

By Gomathi Kumar & Sanjay Kabir


Manjula Pradeep is the Executive Director of Gujarat-based Dalit organisation Navsarjan. After receiving her Masters in Social Work (MSW) she joined the organisation in 1992 and has been  working on different issues since then. Apart from leading organisation's legal cell on Dalit atrocities, she has been in forefront of the movements for agricultural labourers, bonded labourers and developing women cooperatives in the rural areas of Gujarat. In 1997, she completed her law degree to be able to take up cases related with caste and gender atrocities. Leading Navsarjan since 2004, Manjula Pradeep has trained hundreds of grassroots activists and has represented Dalit and Dalit women issues at various national and international fora.

Recently, your organisation has been in news for the study on untouchability practices in Gujarat? What are the findings of this study?

Our study on untouchability practices covered 1655 villages in Gujarat and took three years to complete. We have shared some of its findings with the media to create awareness. In the study, we found 99 forms of untouchability practices and have tried to identify the specific regions where these are practiced. Most prevalent practices are related to right to equality in religion and religious affairs. In more than 90 % of the villages, Dalits are not allowed temple entry or to touch the idols and worship articles. They are not allowed in the religious processions and other rituals.

Then comes the issue of touch. Dalits are not allowed to sit on the chair or cot before any non-Dalit. They necessarily have to sit on the ground. The other practice that comes out very prominently is on food. Dalits are never invited in the community meals or if invited they are seated separately and have to carry their own vessels. They are served tea in cups, ironically called Ram patras, that are kept separately in non-Dalit households. Then we find untouchability being practiced against Dalits in providing basic amenities like drinking water, use of ration shops, postmen not providing their services, not allowed to touch the vegetables in shops etc.

Read more… »      

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