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Positives of Dalit Movement

Dalits movement for empowerment was initiated by non-Brahmins of South India. It had economic and social thrusts. It demanded education and land for backwards and freedom from caste rigidities They gave top most priority to the abolition of untouchability. They tried to clarify that Untouchability was neither an integral part of Hinduism nor an outcome of Varna/caste system, nor have any religious sanctity, but an external impurity and sinful blot on Hinduism. They laid emphasis on education, moral regeneration and philanthropic uplift. They also appealed to untouchables to observe cleaner habits, so that they could mix up with other sections freely and become proud and independent human beings, that they were. The new phase of Dalit assertion is most prominent in the most populous state of UP, where the upper caste domination has been challenged by BSP (Bahujan Samaj Party) formed in 1984 under the leadership of Kanshi Ram and Mayavati. They redefined Dalit politics especially in north India They educate themselves on the constitutional and legal rights of the Dalits and fight for their implementation and extension using national and international forums. Dalit intellectuals and activists seek to educate and unite Dalits to strength their power base. They internationalize Dalit issues to get world attention and support. The Dalit movement today can be compared with the feminist movement in the world and the black movement in the U.S. in such an ideology and strategies of liberation. It strives to move beyond gaining sympathy (even support) of the upper castes and welfare from them and to organize politically and intellectually to fight their own battles. Today the Dalit movement is trying to gain political force. There is increasing intolerance of the situation that has not changed for the majority of the dalits in the fifty five years after independence. The educated Dalits, who can articulate about the exploitation the dalits are subjected to, try to use intellectual organizational means to fight it. Some visible efforts are: using conferences and media (some examples are the recent campaign to include caste in the UN World Conference on Racism, International Dalit Human Rights Conference, First World Dalit Convention: Towards a Casteless Society, Dalit Solidarity Programme), publication of books and journals (International Journal of Dalit Studies, The Dalit Magazine (a U.S. based publication), Bahujan Youth Times, forming discussion groups (Dalit and Bahujan egroups), action groups (Dalit Liberation Education Trust, DalitIndia) and building websites to create awareness (http://www.ambedkar.org is one example).