National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights is a forum committed to the elimination of discrimination based on caste. A democratic secular platform led by Dalit women and men activists, with support and solidarity from movements and organizations, academics, individuals, people’s organizations and institutions throughout the country who are committed to work to protect and promote human rights of Dalits focusing on women and children.
When started and how
In October 1998, seventy-eight Dalit activists and human rights activists from across India, concerned about the frequent atrocities and the blatant lack of implementation of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, met in Bangalore to discuss a program of action. We were anguished that though our nation had just completed her 50th year of independence and in spite of our Constitutional and International commitments to the contrary, the prevalence of “untouchability” continued unabated in many parts of the country. In conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we called for an urgent national campaign to highlight Dalit Human Rights and to uphold that “Dalit Rights are Human Rights.”
Two national consultations were held on the formation of NCDHR during October and November 1998. Over 220 academics, activists, dalit movements, human rights organizations and dalit organizations participated in these consultations. In these consultations, a national level committee and 10 state level committees were formed, thereby initiating NCDHR.
Phase – I (Raising Visibility)
Raising visibility of Dalit issues at various levels –Primarily relying on an event-based strategy, NCHDR has managed to successfully raise the visibility of Dalit issues at the state, national and international level. Some of the key achievements during this phase were:
Massive Signature campaign with 25 lakh signatures submitted to the Prime Minister
The UNWCAR Durban Conference of 2001
Dalit Swadhikar Rally conceptualised during the Dalit Sector Consultation at Hyderabad, started on 6th December 2003.
The Millennium Dalit Charter was released on 10th - 11th August 2005 at Jaipur.
Phase – II (Internationalizing Dalit Rights)
Since its inception in 1998, NCDHR has made major strides in giving visibility to the plight of the Dalit community in South Asia. NCDHR’s work has been instrumental in bringing the kind of international attention and media coverage which has made many in India and around the world sit up and take notice of the injustice and oppression faced by Dalits. To name just a few, NCHDR has been involved in events such as the World Conference Against Racism in South Africa (‘01), all World Social Forums, the historic 40-day Dalit Swadhikar Rally across India converging into World Social Forum in Mumbai (‘04), the first ever public hearing on “The Situation of the Dalits in India” at the European Parliament in Brussels (Dec ’06), and the first International Conference on the Human Rights of Dalit Women at The Hague (Nov ’06). The positive results of these efforts include the first-ever recognition of the Dalit Human Rights problem by the United Nations (Aug 2001), the European Union (May ‘07), and the United States Congress (July ‘07), important events which have increased international pressure on the Government of India to address the serious Dalit issues it has up to now paid only lip-service to.
Phase – III (Holding State Accountable)
We seek foremost to hold the State responsible for not checking the “impunity” being enjoyed by non-Dalits in the criminal justice administrative system. Specifically, we challenge the State and its justice delivery mechanism, including the Human Rights institutions that are in place, to actually implement and enforce its constitutional and legislative measures to safeguard, protect and promote the basic human rights of Dalits.
During Phase 3, beginning in 2003, the emphasis was on grass-roots mobilization, linking and strengthening campaigns, alliance building, and systematic monitoring and advocacy of atrocities against Dalits to pressure the Criminal Justice system to act.
National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) is a coalition of Dalit Human Rights activists, civil society organizations, journalists, and academics who are committed to ending the caste-based discrimination and “untouchability” practices that deny human rights and dignity to 170 million Indian citizens – one sixth of India’s population. Established in 1998, NCDHR is a non-party based secular platform centered in Delhi and with offices in 14 states of the country. NCDHR performs atrocity monitoring, legal interventions, and national and international advocacy to achieve a three-pronged objective: (1) to hold the State accountable for all Human Rights violations committed against Dalits; (2) to sensitize civil society by raising visibility of the Dalit problem; and (3) to render justice to Dalit victims of discrimination and violence. All of our activities are supported by private contributions; we accept no government funding.
Since 2003, a National Secretariat and Fourteen state chapters were initiated. NCDHR Anchored in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Orissa, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Punjab, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Pondicherry.
On the verge of the 10th year of its journey, the National Committee of NCDHR had undertaken an external review of its character, structure, focus, interventions and linkages so that it could evolve a clear framework for its future involvements. Members of the National Governing Council (NGC), National Executive Committee (NEC), and the National Council (NC) from State Chapters, Full Timers, Staff of the National Secretariat, and Friends of the NCDHR were invited for a three day Consultation on Strategic Planning between to discuss the future directions for the involvement of the NCDHR based on the observations, findings, areas to be improved upon, and the recommendations and decided to initiate the following four movements.
A. Dalit Ardhik Adhikar Andolan (DAAA)
B. All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch (AIDMAM)
C. National Federation of Dalit Land Rights Movements (NFDLRM)
D. National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ)
NCDHR – Coalition
1. To serve as platform for shared reflection and collective actions for AIDMAM, DAAA, NFDRLM and NDMJ
2. To extend critical support to Dalit community to realize right to equity and justice in the economic, political, cultural, social and gender domains through its movements.
3. To recognize, develop expand initiatives to respond to the larger capacitation and public action demands from the Dalits.
4. To support movements with Dalit ideology, culture, values and work ethics so that they can effectively serve as energizers of Dalit public action.
1. Form and strengthen movements owned and managed by Dalits.
2. Develop organizational mechanisms to strengthen the emerging movements
3. Even while respecting the internal structures of management and control within each member movement, facilitate the internalization and reflection of ideology, values and principles in these movements
4. Support in Mobilizing adequate resources, knowledge and expertise to further advance vision of the four movements
5. Shape the membership of coalition as responsible and accountable to furthering the vision, objectives and goals of NCDHR.
6. Develop and strengthen the values of mutual help and work culture within and among member movements
7. Critically reflect on the extend and depth to which dalit values and culture are reflected within NCDHR coalition