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Dalit Solidarity Peoples (DSP): the vision

01 September 1998

September, 1998 

The Dalit Solidarity Programme (DSP) emerged as a panacea to educate, unite and empower the Dalits - the divided, discriminated and disinherited community of India. DSP became a reality in December 1992 at Nagpur in Maharashtra State as a culmination of a three-day debate among Dalit intellectuals, activists, and leaders professing different religious faiths, belonging to different regional and linguistic backgrounds and affiliated to different political and ideological streams. DSP aims at achieving organical solidarity among Dalits on the basis of their common sufferings such as untouchability, poverty, discrimination and powerlessness ignoring their religious, regional, linguistic, political and ideological differences. To do so, the members of DSP formed a National Working Committee consisting of President, Secretary/Director, officials at large for women and youth besides the regional conveners and also entrusted it with a task of pursuisng the following objectives:

  • To bring together the Dalits in solidarity with one another cutting across their reliious, linguistic, regional and ideological differences;
  • To work in close association with other indigenous people (Tribals) to be of support in each other and resolve their common problems;
  • To evolve an alternate education system which would direct people at large towards a path of equality and justice, and conscientize the enslaved and margnalized Dalits to realise their worth and power; and
  • To internationalise the Dalit issue for total liberation of the marginalized sections across the world.

With a view to pursuing these objectives, the National Working Committee organised a number of programmes at national, regional, sub-regional and to some extent village levels making the Dalits aware of their rights and privileges, and realise the root cause of their plight, and their own potentials and worth. Its approach is holistic as it aimed to liberate the Dalits from their socioreligious and also economic captivities. In all activities, special importance was given to the active participation of Dalit Women and Youth.

Having pursued these objectives relentlessly from December 1992, DSP reviewed its programme activities and its success and failures in December 1997 (after 5 years). Its members, numbering over 3000, are spread all over India. Of all, the major findings of the review are: a) as DSP moves from national level down to the level of villages, it is likely to face stiff opposition from more powerful individuals, groups who feel that their interests are affected; b) it tried to ensure equal participation of Dalit women in all its programmes by overcoming the cultural century old barriers; c) and majority of the members of DSP, working at various levels expressed that DSP cannot execute its awareness generation programmes confidentially with the ad hoc and short-term assurance of its partners and support organisations. They accordingly suggested that DSP should widen its resource base and generate local resources to sustain its programme activities.

Considering the increasing number and intensity of atrocities on Dalits, and the fact that mere awareness-generation programmes, and that too on ad hoc basis alone, cannot protect the human rights of Dalits, it was expressed that the Dalit People aiming (in more formal way) greater solidarity among them at the organic level.

DSP: From Programme to Peoples' strategies

In accordance with the views and suggestions expressed in its review meeting, the Dalit Solidarity Programme (DSP) moved from `Programme' to `Peoples' with a new name Dalit Solidarity Peoples (DSP) and has now been registered as a Society under the Societies Registration Act of 1860, in July 1998. By taking this new name DSP members have affirmed a truth based upon a sound reality that though they are divided in many communities (peoples), yet they are in solidarity, because they are Dalit. The nature of programmes of the present or new DSP would be people (Dalit) oriented. It acknowledges, appreciates and also respects the religious, regional, linguistic and ideological differences among Dalits and yet emphasises on solidarity among them on the basis of their socio-religious disabilities, which are common among them as stated earlier.

The present DSP would primarily be engaged in enthusing the Dalits to elevate themselves from the bondage of their inhuman or no human condition to the state of full human beings, who are conscious of their own values and potentials. And this consciousness encapsulating deprivations stemming from inhuman conditions of material existence, powerlessness and ideological hegemony.

DSP would also initiate membership drive to mobilise local resources and to identity active and committed Dalit individuals agreeing to work towards the ideals of DSP. It would focus on cader-building at various levels among the members of DSP particularly youth.

It would reattempt more vigorously in inducing more and more women and youth in its decision making process, and has already committed to have 50 per cent of the members in the National Working Committee for women while maintaining balanced representation of members of all religious communities.

DSP would now be able to devote more time in evolving an alternate education module which would infuse and inculcate in its members and Dalits in general an urge to look at their plight with a critical consciousness and to realise their worth.

DSP would also identify other organisations working at the grass-root with a similar interest and use their expertise and resources to work for the cause of Dalits on a sustained basis.

DSP: Expectations from support Partners organisations:

Most of the organisations working for the cause of the marginalized sections like the Dalits rely heavily on organisations like yours for moral and resource support. DSP is not an exception to it. We need your earnest and consistent moral and monetary support on a sustained basis to carry forward our conscientization and developmental initiatives uninterrupted.

We appeal to you to share our sufferings with other congregations and organisations committed to work for the cause of marginalized sections and be of consistent support to us in internationalising The problems of Dalits, who have been the victims of silence and been subjected to all kinds of human rights violations.

We appeal to you to ensure us your consistent moral and resource support at least for 3 to 5 years as short-term conmmitment and 10-15 years as long term commitment. This assurance of yours would greatly enable us to take up the cause of our Dalit Community more vigorously and confidently. We cannot afford to halt this social movement, which is passing through its infancy stage and let all the efforts initiated in the last five years go down the drain. We once again solicit your consistent moral and monetary support to carry forward our cause...  

On behalf of DSP
Mr Bhagwan Das , President
Rev. Isaac P. Mann, General Secretary