Wednesday, February 1, 2012

[ZESTCaste] My trip to India – The Dalit Community’s Struggle for Social Justice

31 Jan 2012

My trip to India – The Dalit Community's Struggle for Social Justice

What a different planet I experienced in the last 2 days. Exhausting
and exhilarating. Travelling with Kami, my son and the leader of the
Dalit community, Ashok Kumar Bharti reminded me so much of the
militant mass struggles of the Eighties. Ashok, like Steve Biko, is a
fiery, charismatic leader who is unafraid to confront power with the
truth. Unassuming and humble he is a peoples' leader who has the trust
of his community. The Dalit population is over 170 m and have been
historically oppressed by the caste system. While this discrimination
has been abolished, like us in South Africa we know that ending racism
on paper does not automatically end racist attitudes in society. Only
powerful community mobilization and organisation under an ethical and
committed leadership makes that a reality. We have a lot to learn from
the continuing struggles of the Dalit population for social justice
and human dignity.

Our Constitution enshrines our basic fundamental human rights. 18
years later we see social inequality and its attendant corruption
rising not only in the public and private sector but also in civil
society. What I learn from my travels to faraway villages and informal
shanty towns is that democracy has to be fought for everyday. Leaders
even from our own ranks will not hesitate to betray our cause of
social justice. We need to bang on their doors to keep them on their
toes as Cde Joe Slovo once said to me. Today it makes more sense that
in the heyday of the euphoria of our victory of democracy in 1994.


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