Obituary of The founding father of Bihar Dalit Vikas Samiti, Dr. Fr. Jose Kananaikil
…A Movement by the Dalits towards claiming freedom, equality, justice, and dignity…
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BDVS History

In 1982, a small band of Dalit youth came together with a desire to serve their sisters and brothers. Their coming together inspired them to form a small organization and they named it Bihar Dalit Vikas Samiti. Fr. Jose Kananaikal, SJ guided them in their efforts to work for the Dalits. He was a great motivation to these youth. They had a dream of a just society – a society in which the Dalits can live with justice, equality and dignity. Based on this vision, the BDVS had drawn up a number of concrete objectives and action plans.

Justice, equality and dignity are not noble concepts. They are the ingredients of a just society. A community that is degraded, marginalized and oppressed for centuries cannot usher into a just society unless it struggles for achieving the same.

The struggle for a just society is a struggle for economic and political power sharing. The introduction of Panchayat Raj system in Bihar with 50 percent reservation for women and adequate representation for Dalits had brought in a new dynamism to the rural masses especially the Dalits. This had also provided a somewhat liberating effect on the otherwise docile Dalit women. However, the well entrenched caste system with its rigid hierarchical social structure coupled with the feudalistic mindset operative in rural Bihar had crippled the functioning of the Panchayat Raj system. It is also to be noted that the unwillingness of the ruling classes to introduce reforms in the pattern of land ownership, the economic scenario of rural Bihar continued to be unchanged, as land is the principal source of livelihood for the rural masses. Hence, poverty, illiteracy and unhygienic living conditions continued to be the bane of Dalits.

The Bihar Dalit Vikas Samiti through its critical interventions had brought in remarkable changes in the lives of the Dalits in its operational area and many national and international donor partners supported the organization in this endeavor.

Over the years, in its involvements and evaluation process, BDVS realized that the organization needs to grow as a Dalit movement. Though in the beginning, the village ‘samitis’ as the basic units of BDVS were caste specific, later close inter-linkages among the castes within the Dalit communities were developed to bring in a Dalit movement. Since, a movement cannot be initiated with project-oriented activities; BDVS started building up infrastructure of human resources from the ‘tola’ to the district level on the basis of the Panchayat Raj with elected representatives at different levels. The vision was to make it a people’s movement and BDVS act as a supportive structure.

The Bihar Dalit Viaks Samiti recognizes that advocacy and capacity building initiatives must go hand in hand, and that the challenges are multi-faceted and multi-dimensional. Thus it strives through its critical interventions, to be partner and facilitator of Dalits in their struggles for self-realization, development and social empowerment.





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