Today I am not going to recite my poem on the stage of state-wide Dalit Poet Sammelan organised by Gujarat Sahitya Acadamy, a literary body controlled by government.
Gujarat government is not implementing Right to Education Act, 2009. In Ahmedabad city alone there are 842 private schools and government has notified only 382 schools for the implementation of 25% quota for economically weaker sections. In entire Gujarat more than 95,000 seats are available and can be notified, but only 20% of them have been allotted for poor kids. Hundreds of parents are running from pillar to post, from DEO office to schools to get admission for their kids. But, DEO has closed the admission process and there are still many vacant seats in private schools.
NGO Dalit Hakk Rakshak Manch (DHRM) has filed PIL in Hon’ble Gujarat High Court and Hon’ble court has issued notices to 582 private schools warning them to face FIR if the Act is not implemented. This is a historical moment for the educational rights of poor, dalit kids. If the Act is properly implemented it will give free education to more than one lac poor kids in private schools and save one billion rupees of poor parents. Gujarat government is also not implementing RTE in tribal areas, where standard of public schools is very low.
Gujarat government is celebrating 125th birth anniversary of Babasaheb Ambedkar. Celebrating Babasaheb’s anniversary is a good thing. But, when thousand of poor, dalit kids are deprived of quality education and crores of rupees are spent in the name of celebration, I can’t remain silent. Gujarat government has always sidetracked basic issues of public good in the name of celebrations and ruined millions of rupees. If government wants to pay homage to Babasaheb Ambedkar, it should spend this amount for the poor, dalit students.
I hope my fellow dalit poets will understand the hollowness of this socalled celebration and join with me to achieve real but unfulfilled mission of Babasaheb Ambedkar.
(note:I am least concerned about so-called ‘independence’ of government Acadamy. If this Acadamy is ‘independent’ it may become another Sahitya Parishad, another front of upper caste writers who are not ready to give any space to dalit writers.)