Beena Pallical is currently the Director of Economic and Educational Rights as part of the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR). In her last eight years with the organisation, she has pushed for the inclusion of Dalit and tribal women in policy formulation and trained many young minds in understanding fiscal budgets and accountability. She has indulged immensely to bring about policy changes with the central and state government to bring about a change in the lives of the Dalits and women and people of the tribal areas.
Ms. Pallical started her talk with a question “What if I told you that you were only to do a particular job, adding to that what if I told you, your children will do only this job ? What if I told you there is no choice at all…?” And received an answer in negative from the audience. She encouraged them and emphasised on the importance of “My life is my choice”. Further, she speaks about how caste, is a big part of society however the masses, the ones in the positions of privilege refuse to acknowledge it.
She brought out the fact that most people claim that caste only exists in small places and believe things like caste is not a big issue in the cities, on the other hand when it comes to marriage , we only choose partners of the same caste. She also spoke on how the social evil of caste system is still very much prevalent with small children facing it in schools to youth trying to access basic things like water. Similar issues are faced by women belonging to the Dalit community even if they get education.
“We continue to sweep caste under the rug, as if it does not exist , but it is there in every cell of our body”, states Pallical. When it comes to choosing friends or having peers to go out with , we end up with people of the same caste. Ms. Pallical even stated that according to the data by National Crime Records Bureau, that is publicly available there are 40,000 registered cases of violence and rape under the Prevention of Atrocities Act on Adivasis and Dalits. She also talked about how on an average five Dalit women are raped everyday . With the current situation intact, where is the safety, the protection of all in the country?
Furthermore, Ms.Pallical talked about how people jump to the subject of reservation when talking about caste not taking into account how lots of students are robbed off their aspirations and dreams because of caste. She brought out the reasons like delay in drafting of scholarships and policies formatted in a way it excludes the Dalits and most importantly the peers who also discriminate on the basis of caste. She also talked at length about Rohit Vemula who lost his life trying to bring to attention the terrible state of education for Dalits. It’s not that Dalits are poor but they have been excluded from a majority of things which are responsible for their state.
Ms. Pallical ended her talk on a powerful note urging the people to think on the lines- “If for 24 hours, all Dalits and Adivasis in the country stop working, just for 24 hours , the country will crash . It’s the fastest growing economy , let’s not forget the hand contributing to it “.