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Meet in US to highlight Dalits' plight

The conference to be held on Capitol Hill will be followed by a House Hearing on caste atrocities in India.

india Updated: Oct 04, 2005 16:31 IST

In a bid to create awareness among US lawmakers about the "struggles" of the lower caste people in India, the Dalit Freedom Network will host a conference in US on Thursday followed by a House Hearing on ongoing "caste atrocities" in the country.

"The growth of the Indian economy has not affected the 250 million Dalits who are denied economic opportunity, education, and equal treatment under the law," said Joseph D'souza, International President of the Denver-based Dalit Freedom Network.

"It is time for the United States to work with the government of India to end caste and stop atrocities against low caste Indians," he said.

The conference titled, "Racism and Caste Based Discrimination in India: Implications for the US-India Relationship" and hearing will try to address the problem of caste in India.

According to D'souza, while atrocities against the Dalits have been practiced for thousands of years, caste-based atrocities are reaching new heights and are causing tension across many areas. "If not addressed, the social and economic problems facing the Dalits, including educational and economic disenfranchisement, the AIDS crisis, and growing religious tensions could threaten the stability of the US-India partnership," he warned.

The conference will also be attended by noted Dalit advocates and leaders from India, Dr Udit Raj, and Dr Kancha Ilaiah.

Dr Raj is the national chairman of the All-India Confederation of Scheduled Caste/ Scheduled Tribe Organisations and Dr Ilaiah is Professor Head of the Political Science Department at Osmania University in Hyderabad.