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Dalits, tribals need more welfare measures: Sonia

Staff Reporter

Says UPA government is committed to their progress

KOCHI: Congress president and United Progressive Alliance (UPA) chairperson Sonia Gandhi has reiterated the UPA government’s resolve to work for the welfare of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. She was addressing a mammoth meeting of the Kerala Pulayar Maha Sabha (KPMS) here on Thursday to mark the centenary of the revolutionary struggles undertaken by the social reformer Ayyankali.

She said many welfare measures had been initiated by the government, but much more needed to be done. A coordination committee had been set up for a dialogue with the industry for reservation in the public sector, she said referring to a demand raised by the KPMS. Pointing out that reservation policy had been at the core of the UPA government’s values, she admitted that there were challenges ahead. A Bill for statutory reservation for Dalits had been taken up in Parliament. About 50,000 people have benefited from a special recruitment drive initiated by the government for the SCs and STs. The number of scholarships offered to Dalits had been increased by the UPA government. A scheme for free residential education for Dalits had been started in 2,000 schools in the country. A scheme for preparing Dalits for competitive examinations had been implemented. A new scheme for self-employment of manual scavengers had also been taken up.

KPMS lauded

She congratulated the KPMS for continuing the glorious legacy of Ayyankali who had initiated historical agitations for the liberation of the downtrodden. It was tragic that in many parts of the country many Dalits were facing discrimination. Atrocities against women were continuing. Ms. Gandhi recalled that Mahatma Gandhi had visited Ayyankali and lauded his efforts for laying stress on education for liberating the oppressed classes.

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