Vikram Masson


Hindu Group Criticizes Dalit Representatives at World Social Forum

Dalit leaders refusing to accept that Dalits are overwhelmingly Hindu. Not actively engaging Hindu leadership

Jersey City, New Jersey--January 17, 2004—Navya Shastra, a US-based global Hindu organization of scholars, activists, priests and laypeople, has criticized the Dalit representatives and organizers of the World Social Forum for highlighting the Hindu dimensions of discrimination against the Dalit community but refusing to work with the Hindu leadership to bring about religious reforms.

“The Dalit leadership and World Social Forum organizers have rightfully focused attention on the social and economic problems faced by the community, but have deliberately refused to begin a dialog with Hindu leaders, though they repeatedly state that Hinduism is the cause of the Dalit plight,'" said Vikram Masson, Navya Shastra Co-Chairman.

Masson further noted that the Hindu religion, despite the rhetoric of the Dalit leadership, continues to be a vital force among the Dalits, and ultimately, improving Dalit prospects will require reforming Hinduism. "It’s about time the Dalit leadership stop asserting that Dalits are not Hindus. If the leadership continues to pretend that Hinduism will go away, it will miss out on an historic opportunity to participate in Hindu reform and to improve the lot of the oppressed communities.”

The World Social Forum has listed India’s caste system as one of its five major topics for discussion at this year's Mumbai meet.

Navya Shastra has expressed solidarity with the Dalit community. “We stand by our oppressed brothers and sisters. We firmly believe that the time for reform is now, and shall urge the Hindu community to end its silence and complacency which has for too long destroyed our religious unity,” said Dr. Jaishree Gopal, Navya Shastra Co-Chairman, "the community's resilience in the face of daily bigotry is the mark of genuine spirituality which other Hindus cannot claim."