Seminars on various issues were the highlight of the ‘National Legislators Conference. On August 6, 2018 there was a ‘National Legislators conference on “Challenges in the Empowerment of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Independent India conducted under the umbrella of ‘Festival of Democracy. National Legislators conference was conducted for two days followed by the ‘Inagural ceremony of the Festival on Democracy’at the hands of Hon’ble President of India. 

Past Events – National legislators Conference- August 2018

Festival on Democracy: National Legislators Conference

The Inaugural of ‘Festival on Democracy’ took place at the auspicious hands of Hon’ble President of India- Shri Ram Nath Kovind in the presence of Hon’ble Speaker-Kerala Legislative Assembly and key Dignitaries. The ‘Festival on Democracy’ marks the 60 Years of Diamond Jubilee Celebration of Kerala Legislative Assembly and is aimed at Fostering, Inculcating, Sensitising, Reiterating, and Strengthening Values & Ethos of Democracy.

The two days conference began with National Anthem and a Welcome Address by Shri. P. SREERAMAKRISHNAN, Hon’ble Speaker, Kerala Legislative Assembly. Which was followed by informative and insightful speeches by Shri. RAMESH CHENNITHALA, Hon’ble Leader of Opposition; Shri. A.K. BALAN, Hon’ble Minister for Welfare of Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes, and Backward Classes, Law, Culture and Parliamentary Affairs; Shri. PINARAYI VIJAYAN, Hon’ble Chief Minister of Kerala; Shri. Justice (Rtd.) P. SATHASIVAM, Hon’ble Governor of Kerala. As the Thought leaders behind the ‘Festival on Democracy’ their address helped set the context for the Day 1 Proceedings of ‘National Legislator’s conference’ on ‘Challenges in the Empowerment of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Independent India’ that were to take place in later half of the day starting 2.00 PM.  The opening ceremony followed by the Inaugural of the ‘Festival on Democracy’ by Hon’ble President of India took place at the Legislature Complex, Kerala Legislative Assembly, Thiruvananthapuram today 6th August 2018 from 11.00 AM onwards.

The Welcome Note for ‘National Legislator’s conference’ on ‘Challenges in the Empowerment of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in Independent India’ was presented by Shri A P Anilkumar, MLA. Shri Rahul V Karad- Executive President –MIT-World Peace University-Pune and Founder & Convener- Bharatiya Chhatra Sansad, National Teachers Congress & National Women’s Parliament Greeted the Audience. Representing Maharashtra- the Land of Birth of Dr. Ambedkar ‘Father of Constitution of India’ and a messiah for India’s SC/ST/OBC community. Mr. Karad shared his thoughts and vision on various National Level Initiatives supported by MIT-WPU for the cause of ‘Nation Building’ across India and how organising the ‘Festival on Democracy’ as associate partner of Kerala Legislative Assembly is further step in this direction.

In session one, Shri. P.S.KRISHNAN, IAS (Retired) Former Advisor to Government of Andhra Pradesh gave a talk on ‘Concept of Empowerment’ and the need to ‘Fight for the Right’. He explained the aspects concerning the process of Empowerment in obtaining basic opportunities for marginalized people and the need for actively thwarting attempts to deny those opportunities.

Session two witnessed an address by Dr. N K Jayakumar- Former Secretary of KLA-a legal expert and a legal advisor to the Kerala Chief Minister.  He questioned, ‘What can we expect from the Judiciary in empowering the SC/ST/OBC in India?’ He said that from his perspective the experience has been disappointing. Why? One is the Nature of Judiciary which is more class oriented. He went on to add that as per his observation, today if there is a conflict between a rich man vs Poor man the judge will be in favour of rich man. Cause Indian Judiciary has a class character and it’s been pro-rich, pro-market, pro-liberalisation. In reality Indian Judiciary is the most powerful Judiciary in the world. Judiciary interprets the Constitution of India. A law maybe passed by Constitution of India, which may be seconded my parliament but the next day it can be turned over by the Supreme court or Judiciary, that’s how powerful our Judiciary is. He gave an example of Reservations, wherein in a recent case of ruling by Supreme Court of India -whereby a principle was laid down that there shall not be any reservation in Promotions. 77th amendment to Constitution was introduced saying that ‘In promotions also Reservation may be introduced’. Supreme Court introduced further conditions, which made Reservations in Promotions practically impossible.

He further explained, that in relation to empowerment of SC/ST/OBC communities the attitude of court has been inconsistent. Former Chief Justice of India –Shri Krishna IYER was progressive thinker, however every Judge is not same, and often they are prejudiced. The only way we can make judiciary realise the spirit, objectives and rational behind the constitutions is through sensitising the SC/ST/OBC community and inducting more people from the OBCs into the Judiciary. The session shared the present day real picture of Democracy in terms of plight of SC/ST/OBC community in India.

The next Session saw Shri Majeed Memon Indian Politician and Member of Parliament in Rajya Sabha of India from Maharashtra. He is a criminal lawyer by profession and leader of Nationalist Congress Party, who shared his pearls of wisdom and experience from witnessing the functioning of the Judiciary and the Constitution at close quarters. He emphasised on how ‘Democracy is the guardian and protector of liberty and liberty lies in the hearts of men & women and it has to be kept awakened and alert in the minds and hearts of the people.’ He stated that we have been an Independent Nation since 65+ years now and hence it is our duty to see that Democracy reaches every house in remote India in letter & spirit. Even if you are not educated, you must know of your constitutional rights and the Liberty accorded to you as the citizens.  He complimented Kerala Speaker on this great initiative and hoped for this wave to reach all states of India. He reiterated the need for eliminating untouchability and reminded people of meaning of Secularism, ‘Secularism is a basic feature of the constitution, which guarantees quality, cohesive and casteless society. These principles of liberty, equality & fraternity are not to be treated as trinity but to be executed as in Unity’. He drove the point across as to how Progress of India has been from Casteism to Egalitarianism and how if we do not bring into practice the inclusiveness for SC/ST/OBCs into mainstream, we cannot achieve the goal set by present Prime Minister of India ‘Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas’, which can be achieved only if we form an inclusive society by supporting SC/STs and OBCs.

Session 3 saw the noted Speaker Shri. KANCHA ILAIAH- Director, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy- Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad drive actionable Insights & Recommendations for the Government on ‘Casteism and Uprising of Scheduled Communities’

He asked the audience, ‘Do you there is there is an uprising?’

He added, “Yes there is a serious uprising whereby there was an all India bandh. The riots happened particularly in north India. There is an uprising particularly around cow protection when it created a crisis in SC/ST economy and therefore UNA happened and therefore Maharashtra Crisis happened. There is an Uprising whenever any sensitive attack on the great Dr. Ambedkar occurs.”

This positive solidarity shown by Dalits of India is remarkable sign of Uprising. He stated that Kerala is a Model State for other States of India to follow. Kerala society has produced first SC/ST president in India and the first Chief Justice from OBC. Then Again they are the first to uphold that Dalit priests will head temples from now on. This is how the question of untouchability, complete equality and equal education needs to be addressed. Kerala has to take one particular step- Pass a law to introduce English medium into Government Schools, otherwise Dalit cannot compete in other markets.  Today English is in private sector and regional language is in government sector. This does not allow Dalits to compete with best-of best. There are private university’s run by corporates who do not implement Reservations.  English Language is becoming a barrier for Empowering the backward section of society and in ensuring they get jobs in mainstream professions. He urged the Government to take measures to introduce Reservations in Private Universities & Private Sector Jobs. Kerala is the model state for development, literacy, man-woman equality, health, panchayats and therefore the growth seen in Kerala is far superior.

In the Next Session Shri Varprasad Rao spoke on Casteism. He mentioned how prior to Independence, SC/ST/OBC were prohibited from employment in Government Jobs, from doing Business, from owning a property and 4th from getting access to quality education. If this has been the case for centuries, then it is not surprising that we ‘Dalits’ are where we are today due to the wretched history imposed on us (Dalits). He expressed gratitude towards Dr. Ambedkar who was more than god for the oppressed Dalits/SC/ST. He went on to add, but for him, we would have continued in same pathetic condition. Dr. Ambedkar stated that Political power has a role to play in empowering the people. I myself left IAS and joined Politics to bring about real change and reduce the huge Economic Gap. 1% people are enjoying the state wealth and next 20% are enjoying state wealth, whereas remaining 89% are sharing rest of state wealth. In this SC/STs/OBCs have no place to make wealth. Political power is the key for developments and there is no democracy at lower or higher levels. According to him, Democracy is a big sham in India and only the rich and upper class are ruling the country. Reservations is just a concession. He observed how 93% of death penalties given out are to SC/ST people and raised the issue that the more important State/Central Govt banks don’t have SC/ST/OBC executive directors. Let the Supreme Court realise that the younger generation of SC/ST/OBC are far superior, if given an opportunity and equality. He reiterated that any amount of reservation given by Government will cater to only 2/3%, necessarily private sector needs to have Reservation as an obligation against the concessions in land they continue to enjoy. He urged the Government to adopt wider reservations and reforms to truly Empower the Dalits/SC/ST/OBC communities.

In the final Session on Constitutional Justice: Reality and Expectations Prof. GOPAL GURU

Editor, Economic and Political Weekly drove the point on how the categories of caste and class are undergoing radical change due to Global capital working against the articulation of shared experiences of exploitation. How the ‘Constitution of India’ actually execute what it guarantees, which is ‘Justice to all’. As the constitutional expert he explained the crisis unfolding in India’s Supreme Court sighting some recent cases.

The Conference concluded with Regional Conference sessions taking place in Legislative Complex Halls.

 

Session Info: National Legislators Conference

Speaker: Shri. P.S.KRISHNAN, IAS (Retired)
Former Advisor to Government of Andhra Pradesh

Speaker Profile: Hon’ble Shri P.S Krishnan is the 85 years old retired IAS officer and Former Advisor to Govt. of Andhra Pradesh. Above all he has been a perseverant Crusader fighting for the rights of SC/STs and Backward classes of the Society.

Here we Present few Key Excerpts of His Fight for the Right, the exact status on which will be revealed by him during the ‘Festival on Democracy’ scheduled for 6th August at Kerala Legislative Assembly-

Session Brief- The session will elucidate upon the Concept of Empowerment. The focus of session will be on discussing the nuances of the process of Empowerment in obtaining basic opportunities for marginalized people, either directly by those people, or through the help of non-marginalized others who share their own access to these opportunities. It also includes actively thwarting attempts to deny those opportunities. Empowerment also includes encouraging, and developing the skills for, self-sufficiency, with a focus on eliminating the future need for charity or welfare in the individuals of the group. This process can be difficult to start and to implement effectively. The Session will present steps that have been taken or still need to be taken to Effectively Prevent and Severely Punish Atrocities against SCs and STs. The impact of the recent Supreme Court judgement that overemphasized the abuse of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.  Impact created by uninformed discussion in the TV Channels and the print media, following the agitation of the Patidars or Patels of Gujarat and the actual need to make ordinary people aware of a few essential basic facts and correct certain common errors.

Speaker: Shri. Justice (Rtd.) K.G.BALAKRISHNAN

Former Chief Justice of India

Speaker Profile: Shri K. G. Balakrishnan (b. 12 May 1945) was the former Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India. He is a former Chief Justice of India. He was the first judge from the state of Kerala to become the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. His tenure lasting more than three years has been one of the longest in the Supreme Court of India.

Session Brief:  Judicial independence is one of the essential elements of Rule of Law. Legal interventions, which include both the criminal and the civil justice systems, have several goals: one of them being increasing the range of social and legal controls affecting individuals, families, and communities. In the past, the judiciary has had an exceptional role in shaping the course of policies and politics in India. The session would emphasize on the need to secure social justice. The questions as to what goals constitute social justice, how those goals can be achieved, and which goal should take precedence over others are inherently political questions, which need to be debated and decided in sovereign legislatures rather than courts. The session would also share key inferences drawn from SC/ST verdict of Supreme Court and Public Policy & Scope of Judicial Intervention in Arbitral Awards amongst others.

Speaker: Shri. KANCHA ILAIAH

Director, Centre for Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy

Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad

Speaker Profile: Kancha Ilaiah, who now refers to himself symbolically as Kancha Ilaiah Shepherd, (born 5 October 1952) is an Indian political theorist, writer and activist for Dalit rights. He is a prolific writer in both English and Telugu. He has been a recipient of the Mahatma Jyotirao Phule Award and was a Nehru Fellow between 1994-97

Session Brief:  The session would elucidate how certain facets have been ignored despite various constitutional provisions and laws that the state grants Dalits.  The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was designed to prevent abuses against members of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes and punish those responsible. The speaker will discuss how its enactment represented an acknowledgment on the part of the government that abuses, in their most degrading and violent forms, were still perpetrated against Dalits decades after independence. The laws, however, have benefited very few and, due to a lack of political will, development programs and welfare projects designed to improve economic conditions for Dalits have generally had little effect. Dalits rarely break free from bondage or economic exploitation by upper-caste landowners. The session will focus on some recent verdicts like the one on March 20, whereby the Supreme Court banned automatic arrests and registration of criminal cases under the SC/ST Act, triggering widespread criticism and outcry from the Dalit community.

Speaker: Prof. GOPAL GURU

Editor, Economic and Political Weekly

Speaker Profile:

Eminent political scientist Gopal Guru is the new editor of the prestigious journal Economic and Political Weekly. A former senior professor at New Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU), Guru is the author of several books and specializes in political theory and philosophy. His researches include significant work on Indian political processes and politics of multiculturalism. Caste and Dalit politics have, however, remained his core areas of interest during his long academic career.

Session Brief

The session highlighted the role played by ‘Father of Nation’ and ‘Father of Constitution’.  How the categories of caste and class are undergoing radical change due to Global capital working against the articulation of shared experiences of exploitation. How the ‘Constitution of India’ actually execute what it guarantees, which is ‘Justice to all’. The session will attempt to answer critical questions facing the society today such as- What justice is? What is ‘Access to Justice’? and why one wants access to it? These are important question which need to be addressed as Justice is a concept of rightness, fairness based on ethics, moral, religion and rationality. Does the Constitution of India fulfill expectations of citizens? The speaker as the constitutional expert will explain the crisis unfolding in India’s Supreme Court.

Speaker: Shri Venkitesh Ramakrishnan

Deputy Editor-Frontline Magazine

Speaker Profile:

Shri Venkitesh Ramakrishnan was awarded the Maja Koene Social Journalist award 2017 in Madurai on October 14, honoring him as “socially responsible journalists who have done a significant work in the field of awareness building in order to remove injustice and poverty”.  His senior colleagues speak of him in high regard as, “Someone who practiced what he preached and preached what he practiced. Wonderful Orator who could transform the poetry of campaigning into the prose of governance. Had all the ingredients of a noble statesman. Almost 35 years since I last saw Venkitesh and still hold this recommendation. A person of Integrity, Loyalty and a True Honorable Gentleman.”

Session Brief

The purpose of implementing caste based reservation system in the independent Indian constitution was an attempt to abolish the historical injustices and bring forward equality amongst the underprivileged. Did it actually bring equality amongst us? Why is there a need for reservation in government jobs? Why are more OBC communities joining the reservation bandwagon? Should reservation be based on “poverty” or Economic status alone?  One can nip these arguments in bud, however the Speaker in this session would explain finer points as to the way discussions on ‘Reservations’ are promoted by the 3 percent of the upper castes, who manage 90 percent of the positions in the media and disproportionate seats in all the organizations of the Government. Is it giving a skewed picture?

 

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2. Shri. R. Sajeevan
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