Open Letter to President Barack Obama : An appeal to pursue during Indian Prime Minister’s visit
November 21, 2009
The Honorable Barack Obama,
President of the United States,
The White House,
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20500
First of all thank you for committing to an open and all accessible administration structure in the history of America that has far-reaching consequences in different parts of the globe wherever democratic dysfunctionalities exist. With this letter, we expect your enlightened interest in restoring, qualitatively, the human rights for Dalits in forthcoming US-India bilateral dialogues.
World sets into a hope for more peaceful world in times when you were honored with Nobel Peace Prize. Part of globe, especially, Indian sub-continent, is still locked in malignant social suffering zone that delivers huge economic subjugation for 250 million Dalits. Dalits are suffering since 3000 years due to evil Hindu caste based hierarchical social system. By any scale, they would form the fifth largest ‘Nation -body’ in the world, such is the magnitude of the injustice!
Leaving aside the unaccounted incidences of apartheid crime in India, the Indian Government reports themselves (Crime in India) summarise the picture as followes
“Every hour two Dalits are assaulted,
Every day three Dalit women are raped,
Every day two Dalits are murdered
& two Dalit houses are burnt in India.”
During modern times, the realm of social activism for uprooting caste system was intiated by the most prominent civil rights leader in India, Dr. Bhimrao Ambedkar (the chief architect of Indian Constitution). It is worth noting that he had several communications with WEB Du bois and many other world leaders to stand against the ghost of prejudices mainly against Blacks, Jews, Dalits and minorities. Despite his hardships his fellowmen, Dalits, still remain at bay in social progression in 21st century.
On behalf of Dalit Community, we earnestly request you to address the issues of Dalit human rights violations in India. Prime Minister of India Dr. Manmohan Singh will be the first leader to receive a ‘State Wellcome ‘at White House after you sworn in as President. Recently Dr. Manmohan Singh has drawn a parallel between racial apartheid and untouchability in India. He also reiterated in emotional tone this “unique discrimination is a blot on humanity”. However, State policy commitments of Indian Governments remained far off from actualising the promises and sentiments echoed by Dr. Singh. Dalit stock is only seen as a political wedge and an emotinal scapegoat that can not rely successive Emotional Governments to better its socio-economic and political conditions unless international body enforces rational indicators for Dalit betterment. This is for all inclusive development of the world where communities seek equitable participation, there is less political about it.
USA has proud history of fighting against the racism and apartheid, and also shown commitment to fight similar human rights violation elsewhere in the world. India and also many other countries are proud of India for its largest democracy in the world, however in-spite of laws and speeches by leaders the situations of Dalit/untouchables substantially remained unaltered after the 60 years of independent democracy.
While you dialogue with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in the White House on the issues of economic cooperation, science-technology partnership, we also expect that you will take this opportunity to directly communicate your concerns about human rights violations of Dalits in India.
We all appeal with a deep sense of gratitude and fraternity that you to have a dialogue with Dr. Singh on possible steps to be taken on substantive improvements in the lives of “ex-untouchables” who are most vulnerable to indignity, hatred, hunger deaths, and human rights violations.
What Dalit humanity expect from US to show their commitment to follow their promises
- Engaging US delegation in India to support for common cause of equality and justice and if there is violation of human rights of Dalit they should jointly take up stands and do act against ‘untouchability’ and caste related human rights violations.
- The US House con. Resolution no. 139 calls on the United States government to work with India to address the problem of untouchability by raising the issue of caste discrimination through diplomatic channels and encouraging US businesses, USAID, the State Department, World Bank, and other US programs and organizations working in India to take every possible measure to ensure Dalits are included and are not discriminated against in their programming. http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=hc110-139
- Support for non-discriminatory policies towards ‘Dalits’ or ‘untouchables’ at international human rights and development institutions and agencies.
- Encouraging US corporate in India to introduce non-discriminatory and equal opportunity policies for Dalits.
- Push for Indian governments’ better performance on US annual reports on Human Rights, Freedom to Religion and most important Trafficking in Person (India is put at Tier II watch list for many years) specifically address the issue of untouchability as major cause of trafficking, and human rights violations.
- TIP-2007 Report. Pg. 213 “There is a group of people in India numbering about 250 million that has been oppressed for 3000 years. These people, the dalits, who are traditionally knows as “outcastes” or “untouchables,” are barred from many activities and economic opportunities, and often end up in slave-like bonded labor. They are even forced to drink water from disposable clay cups and separate wells so that no upper caste person will risk contamination by a Dalit’s uncleanliness.”
- According to a 2005 ILO report-“Caste and Slavery in South Asia”- the overwhelming majority of bonded laborers in India are from the lower castes/Dalits (Cited in TIP 2006 Report)
- If your joint press conference reaffirm US-India commitment against untouchability in South Asia, such a joint declaration will send a strong signal to the world community to stand up to remove this blot on humanity and encourage to take substantial actions on abolition of untouchability.
Thank you so much !
All the members of Ambedkar International Mission, USA
Ambedkar Association of North America, USA
Friends, What you can do-à
1. Please try putting comments/opinions on various blogs like Atrocitynews and also think put your comments on http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/ . You can mention the above link while putting up the comment.
2. Fax the letter to White house on your organization letter head -FAX: 202-456-2461
What else you can also do is a. you may put messages or same page to as many congressman in USA as possible ex. Hilary Clinton, etc
b.you may write to various blogs,facebook, myspace and various groups those are supportive to Dalit cause . Comment on YouTube with Slideshare ,simultaneously, organizations can endorse this appeal and fax it to the Whitehouse.
Filed under: Affirmative action, Caste dynamics, dalit atrocity, International activism | 29 Comments