Yesterday when I saw the news article in Times of India of 20th June on editorial page no. 20, I felt immensely pleased that the message which our society has been trying to give to elected representatives to amend the laws to incentivize the Inter-Caste/ Inter- region/ Inter- religion marriages, has now caught the attention of Government of India.
Mr Ram Vilas Paswan Honorable Union Minister of consumer Affairs, food and public distribution, while giving interview to Times of India has partially articulated our view point of might take a little longer for Politicians also propagate Inter-religion marriage but eventually this will happen.
You can read the article from this link. We have also reproduced the entire article for your convenience-
‘Inter-caste marriage is the biggest weapon to end division in society … let every child get equal opportunity’
NDA has had an uneasy relationship with Dalits, with the gulf widening following a Supreme Court order. Ram Vilas Paswan, minister for consumer affairs, food and public distribution and president of Lok Janshakti Party, spoke to Dipak Kumar Dash about the issue:
Several issues related to Dalit rights, atrocities and promotion in reservation have taken centre stage in recent months. Is the politics of vote behind all this?
This is not an issue. It’s natural that every opposition party will try to take advantage of a situation. There have been atrocities against Dalits in the past as well. In Jhajjar, Dalit youths were burnt under Bhupinder Singh Hooda government. There have been several similar incidents across the country, including Bihar, in the past. That’s why the Dalit Act was made to protect the vulnerable people – it was both an antibiotic and a surgery as normal medicine won’t work. That’s why the government has said we are ready with the ordinance for protecting the Dalits.
Reservation in promotion has also become a major issue.
Reservation in promotion was nixed in 1992 by the Supreme Court. Then during the Narasimha Rao government, a constitutional amendment was brought in 1995.
Again, during Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s regime three amendments were passed. Then in 2006, M Nagaraj case happened challenging promotion in reservation and the case has been going on. We had raised the issue in UPA and in fact Rajya Sabha had cleared the amendments, but these could not be passed in Lok Sabha despite UPA having majority as Samajwadi Party was against it.
Before the summer vacation, the government had decided to approach the court to restore reservation in promotion. The SC passed an order to continue the system until a constitutional bench finally gives its verdict. There were two confusions in the order and we had a discussion in the group of ministers. It was clarified that the order was for both central and state governments.
Do you think people will keep believing government’s commitment to protect Dalits if you don’t act?
There is no doubt that government needs to prove (its commitment) through its acts. The new generation is not ready to wait. They won’t blindly accept what we say. If we keep on saying indefinitely that we will bring ordinance they won’t wait.
Do you feel there should be reservation in the lateral entry of joint secretaries?
It’s a pilot initiative and hence cannot be generalised. But I have raised the issue and have made my point that let the government fix the basic norm and if they get right people from SC/ STs, such candidates should get preference.
Hasn’t winning Dalits become the priority of all political parties?
No one can ignore SC/ ST and backward castes, including those from among Muslims, as they have almost 70% share of the electorate. Till we have the right to vote, no one can ignore this segment. The root of this is “one person one vote” in our parliamentary democracy. That was the biggest equaliser that Babasaheb Bhimrao Ambedkar gifted the country.
Reservation for the Dalits was introduced to ensure there was no injustice done to them and to bring them to mainstream.
Then who and what stopped them from joining the mainstream?
People who have been in power must answer this. Ambedkar had said after Independence that the country was entering a new era. It was only political empowerment of Dalits to get elected to Lok Sabha and Vidhan Sabha. But until they get social rights, the situation won’t change. If we have not been able to change the social outlook, that’s a matter of shame for all of us. Even educated people’s outlook has not changed and that’s a major concern.
You often give the example of Babu Jagjivan Ram to justify your argument for reservation in promotion. Why?
Jagjivan Ram got the title of Babuji because he reached a certain position in politics. Would people treat me like this, if I were not a minister? Today, you don’t allow a Dalit to wear shoes or ride a horse. Suppose that boy becomes a police officer, will you not salute him? So, this is not just about jobs, but about social status and recognition.
How long will it take to end discrimination and division?
Inter-caste marriage is the biggest weapon to end this division in society. There is need to ensure that the couple entering inter-caste marriage stand on their own feet so that they can fight against society, which will attack them and even get them killed.
So, what’s the way out?
The diagnosis has already been done. What we need is medicine. How can you bring merit? Let every child get equal opportunity.