From: Satinath Choudhary <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Mon, Nov 1, 2010 at 10:24 AM
Subject: An open letter to President Obama about dalits and tribal people in India
I do not know if Indian media gave much publicity to, and whether it caught your attention, but on July 24 of 2007 the US Senate as well as House of Representatives passed a concurrent resolution expressing the sense of the Congress that the United States should address the ongoing problem of untouchability in India. Well, Dr. A.K. Biswas did remember that resolution and would very much like to remind President Obama of the same. We have placed "An open letter to President Obama about dalits and tribal people in India" at:
As you would note from the online Open Letter, realizing that these things take time, we propose to keep on reminding President Obama and the US Congress on July 24 of the next couple of years, anniversary dates of the well considered resolution passed by the Congress on July 24 of 2007, to review any follow up actions taken. In the mean time we will continue to invite more and more endorsements from across the globe sympathetic to the cause of dalit and tribal communities to complement the voice of voiceless.
Keeping the above in view, please sign the said online "Open Letter" and let us all try to collect thousands of endorsements to present to Obama not only when he is in India, but the next year as well as the year after with thousands more signature on the open letter. In this endeavor you can send letters to your friends and to other forums stating something to the effect:
I have just read and signed the online petition:
"An open letter to President Obama about dalits and tribal people in India" hosted on the web by PetitionOnline.com, the free online petition service, at:
I personally agree with what this petition says, and I think you might agree, too. If you can spare a moment, please take a look, and consider signing yourself.
To: US President and the US Congress
An Open Letter to President Obama
Global-Citizens Concerned about Peace and Justice in India
Abstract: This letter is with regard to 110th CONGRESS, H. CON. RES. 139, passed in the House of Representatives and Senate of the United States, July 24, 2007, expressing the sense of the Congress that the United States should address the ongoing problem of untouchability in India. We are urging President Obama to take follow up actions pursuant to the very thoughtful resolution and translate the same into practice for the benefit of more than 200,000,000 dalit and tribal people of India.
Dear Hon�ble President Obama,
We, the undersigned, on our behalf and on behalf of millions of Dalits and Tribal people of India (formerly called untouchables, and at many places still treated as such), would like to extend our heartiest and warmest welcome Mrs. Obama and you on your November, 2010, visit to India.
On this occasion we would like to remind you of the 110th CONGRESS, H. CON. RES. 139, passed in the Senate of the United States, July 24, 2007, when you were a member of the Senate, expressing the sense of the Congress that the United States should address the ongoing problem of untouchability in India. The resolution observed, as summarized at
Whereas caste is the socioeconomic stratification of people in South Asia based on a combination of work and heredity; Whereas the `Untouchables', now known as the Dalits, and the people of the forest tribes of India, called Tribals, who together number approximately 200,000,000 people, are the primary victims of caste discrimination in India; Whereas discrimination against the Dalits and Tribals has existed for more than 2,000 years and has included educational discrimination, economic disenfranchisement, physical abuse, discrimination in medical care, religious discrimination, and violence targeting Dalit and Tribal women; Whereas Article 17 of the Constitution of India outlaws untouchability;
Whereas despite numerous laws enacted for the protection and betterment of the Dalits and Tribals, they are still considered outcasts in Indian society and are treated as such; moreover, in practice, Dalits and Tribals are frequently denied equal treatment under the law; Whereas Dalit women suffer both caste and gender discrimination as a result of the deficient administration of justice and are often raped and attacked with impunity; Whereas the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has declared that many of the reported cases of atrocities against Dalits and Tribals end in acquittals; Whereas, despite the fact that many Dalits do not report crimes for fear of reprisals by the dominant castes, national police statistics averaged over the past five years by the National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes show that 13 Dalits are murdered every week, five Dalits' homes or possessions are burnt every week, six Dalits are kidnapped or abducted every week, three Dalit women are raped every day, 11 Dalits are beaten every day and a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes;
Whereas many Dalit girls are forced to become temple prostitutes who are then unable to marry and may be auctioned to urban brothels, and many women trafficked in India are Dalit women; Whereas low-caste unborn females are targeted for abortions; Whereas according to Human Rights Watch and India's official National Family Health Survey, most Dalits and Tribals are among those poorest of the poor living on less than $1 per day; most of India's bonded laborers are Dalits; and half of India's Dalit children are undernourished, 21 percent are `severely underweight', and 12 percent die before their 5th birthday; Whereas Dalits and other low-caste individuals often suffer from discrimination and segregation in government primary schools leading to low enrollment, high drop-out, and low literacy rates, perhaps linked to a perception that Dalits are not meant to be educated, are incapable of being educated, or if educated, would pose a threat to village hierarchies and power relations; Whereas the Dalits and Tribals maintain higher illiteracy rates than non-Dalit populations; and Whereas the HIV/AIDS epidemic is India is massive and Dalits and Tribals are significantly affected by HIV/AIDS:
The resolution then went on to express the sense of Congress that, as the leaders of the United States and the Republic of India have expressed commitment to the values of human freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, it is in U.S. interests to address the treatment of the Dalits and Tribals in India by: (as summarized at
(1) raising the issue of caste discrimination and untouchability; (2) encouraging the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to ensure that the needs of Dalit organizations are incorporated in project development; (3) ensuring that projects that positively impact Dalit and Tribal communities, especially Dalit women, are developed; (4) ensuring that cooperative research programs targeting rural health care, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, and rural technology contain proper focus on the Dalits and Tribals; (5) ensuring that anyone receiving U.S. government funds in India is aware that it is U.S. policy that caste discrimination is unacceptable and that the United States is committed to eliminating it; (6) ensuring that qualified Dalits are not discouraged from working with the U.S. government or U.S.-funded organizations in India; and (7) discussing the issue of caste in the context of congressional delegations.
Hon�ble Sir, we are unaware of follow-up actions, if any, taken by US or Indian authorities even after three years. Your official visit to India furnishes a perfect opportunity to acquaint yourself with the vast discriminated population as also appraise yourself of any action on the said resolution. Follow-up actions pursuant to the very thoughtful resolution would go a long way to uplift the status and fortune of more than two hundred million discriminated Indians who are regarded as belonging to lower castes. Sir, realizing that these things take time, we propose to keep on reminding you and the US Congress on July 24 of the next couple of years, anniversary dates of the well considered resolution passed by the Congress on July 24 of 2007, to review any follow up actions taken. In the mean time we will continue to invite more and more signatories across the globe sympathetic to the cause of dalit and tribal communities to complement the voice of voiceless.
We urge upon you to grant an appointment for interaction with a delegation of us (activists and thinkers) during your forthcoming state visit to India. Such a meeting will put a spotlight on the plight of Dalits and Tribal people. It will also provide you with an opportunity to get a perspective of India different from the one provided by officials of Indian Government. Sir, we are well aware that we are not giving you and your staff adequate time for scheduling a meeting we have proposed. However, even just a few minute squeezed from your busy schedule for the cause would put the spotlight on the plight of the underprivileged and greatly help their struggle for emancipation.
With warmest regards,
Most sincerely yours,
We are global-citizens concerned about Peace and Justice in India (in alphabetical order):
Dr. Atul Krishna Biswas, IAS (Retired) and former Vice-Chancellor, B. R. Ambedkar Bihar University, Muzaffarpur, Bihar, India
Sanjay Kumar Chaudhary, Asst. Prof. of Law, CSSE, National Law School of India University, Bangalore
Nasir Chhipa, Association of Indian Muslims, Washington, DC, USA
Fahmida Chhipa, Islamic Community Center of Northern Virginia, USA
Pankaj Choudhary, Advocate and Activist, Delhi
Dr. Satinath Choudhary, Former professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, currently activist in India and USA
Gladson Dungdung, Human Rights Activist and Writer, Convenor, Jharkhand Indigenous, India www.jharkhandmirror.org
Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer, Chairman, Centre for Study of Society and Secularism, Mumbai, India, www.csss-isla.com
Prof. Dilip K. Halder, Retired Professor, University of Jadavpur; Activist, West Bengal
Edwin Jayadas, OpenSpace, Bangalore, India
Khalid Azam, IMC-USA, Activist, California, USA
Dr. Bachchu Lal, Ph.D., Faculty, Department of Neurology, Johns Hopkins University,
Baltimore, Maryland; President, Dr. Ambedkar NRI Association, USA
Dr. A.S. Nakadar, Trustee, The American Federation of Muslims of Indian Origin, Michigan, USA
Dr.Kantilal C.Parmar, M.Com.,M.Phil.,Ph.D.(Buddhism), A retired Senior Audit Officer ( Coml. Audit): Indian Audit Department(C.& A.G ); Social Activist, Ahmedabad, Gujarat
Sanjay Paswan, Advocate and Activist, Delhi
Saeed Patel, Former National co-ordinator of NRI for Seculsr snf Harmonious India; Activist, New Jersey, USA
Ms. Fasiha Qadri, Advocate and Activist, Kashmir
Dr. Ram Puniyani, Professor and Activist at Indian Institute of Technology, Mumbai,
Member, Committee for Communal Amity, Mumbai
Professor Shiva Shankar, Chennai Mathematical Institute, Tamil Nadu
Dr. Sheikh Ubaid, Neurologist and Neurophysiologist, Activist, New York
Amar Singh, General Secretary, SC/ST Emploees Welfare Association, Delhi University and Colleges, Delhi
View Current Signatures
Thanking you very much,
With best regards,