Dalit meet in US demands private sector quota

July 5th, 2008 - 9:29 pm ICT by IANS  

By Arun Kumar
Washington, July 5 (IANS) Seeking affirmative action for marginalised Dalits and minorities in India, an international meet in the US has made a strong demand for reservation in the private sector besides a quota in the sphere of judiciary. Inaugurating the three-day Dalit and Minorities International Conference in New York Friday, India’s Steel Minister Ram Vilas Paswan called for empowering deprived sections through education and employment.

Paswan, who is chairman of the Dalit and Minorities International Forum (DMIF), described the two sections as natural allies as they are confronted by similar conditions and said fruits of economic progress must percolate down to vulnerable segments.

Condemning discrimination on the basis of race, gender, religion and caste, the Lok Janshakti Party (LJP) chief said there was need for a strong political will to end the caste system which was making the country weak from within.

Several other speakers also expressed anguish over “low representation” of marginalized sections in India’s private sector.

Lok Sabha Deputy Speaker Charanjit Singh Atwal in his keynote address said he was “distressed” by low representation of Dalits and minorities, particularly Muslims, in the public and private sectors.

Introducing a law to provide for reservation in the private sector would be an important step in context of the “increasingly shrinking role” of the public sector, he said.

“Reservation in the sphere of judiciary may also be necessary to ensure due presence of Dalits and minorities in the forums that determine validity and constitutionality of statutes and executive decisions,” Atwal added.

Over 2,000 delegates from India, the US, Nepal, Britain, Malaysia, the Middle East, and other parts of the world are participating in the conference, organized mainly by the American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin (AFMI).

The conference is aimed at highlighting the problems faced by India’s marginalized communities and seek practical solutions. Its main focus will be on international attention on discrimination based on caste, gender and religion as it deliberates on eliminating such societal inequalities.

The AFMI, a North America based grassroots organization dedicated to socio-economic and educational development of Muslims and other underprivileged masses in India, is also holding its XVII North American Annual Convention in conjunction with the conference.

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