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Resolution on India's untouchables in US
May 03, 2007 01:34 IST
He urged fellow Congressmen on Tuesday, "...to join with me in calling on the Indian government and the world community to look with compassion upon India's untouchables and reach out to one of the most oppressed peoples on earth" and observed, "This resolution encourages our government to work with India to find new approaches to an age old problem."
Describing the practice of untouchability as, "...an ancient and particularly abhorrent form of persecution and segregation," he called upon the US Congress to condemn it and urge an end to this social discrimination and injustice faced by millions of people in India.
A Concurrent resolution is a non-binding one and is often used only to express the sense of the Congress on any practice or abuse, which is unacceptable anywhere.
Legislative aide Bethany Barker to Congressman Franks told UNI today that "the resolution had not not been adopted by the House of Representatives. It was just introduced to express indignation at the prevalent practice and it may take weeks or even months before the House adopts it."
Speaking on the resolution, the Congressman said, "'It is now time for this Congress to speak out about this ancient and particularly abhorrent form of persecution and segregation -- even if it is occurring in a country considered to be one of America's closest allies.
"This Congress must urge an end to the social discrimination and injustice faced by the nearly 250 million people known as Dalits and Tribals in India," Franks said. "Although the Indian Constitution guarantees fundamental rights and freedom for all Indians, the untouchables continue to face widespread social and caste injustices and are still considered outcasts in Indian society and are treated as such."
Saying that this practice is unacceptable especially because India is now America's largest trade partner and a close ally. Franks urged "Indian society and American diplomats, aid workers, and businesses working in India to do the same, and work toward the eradication of caste discrimination in India."
"At best, untouchability involves social segregation, including separate educational facilities, drinking water, and restaurants.
"This is a sad and familiar tune to many of us in our own country. At worst, untouchability entails widespread violence against untouchable women -- especially in the form of rape with impunity, being targeted for abortions, and comprising the majority of temple prostitutes and women trafficked from India." Congressman Franks is serving his third term in the US House of Representatives, and is a member of the Committee on Armed Services, Strategic Forces Subcommittee, Readiness Subcommittee, Committee on the Judiciary, and is Ranking Member on the Constitution Subcommittee.