HYDERABAD: The Una Dalit movement is not a sudden outburst but a result of discontent that has been brewing for long, noted rural journalist and founder of People’s Archive of Rural India (PARI) has said.

Speaking at a seminar on ‘Impact of last 25 years on our material lives, minds and moral universe’ here on Sunday, the rural journalist said the Una Dalit movement did not happen in one day but is a result of long developing discontent of the oppressed. “Untouchability is not as social evil as showcased by our leaders. It is an extremely sophisticated way of breaking down human beings to get a continuous source of demoralised cheap labour,” he said.

He said the beef ban has affected Maharashtra’s rural economy badly and cattle prices have gone down by 60 per cent. “Now Marathas can’t sell their old cows and have to see them die,” he said.

Talking about the the ill effects of neo-liberalism, he said that liberalisation brought in the concept of gated communities. “Starting with Delhi, the gated communities have privatised public spaces,” he said.

On Krishna Pushkarams, Sainath said, “As a Telugu, I feel offended to see the state promoting religiosity with the chief minister taking the first dip and initiating others into spirituality. This was absent 25 years ago,” he said.

Development economist and Jawaharlal Nehru University professor Jayati Ghosh lamented the procedure of measuring work participation rate of women in the country as most of the work done by women is not recognised as work.

“If the household work done by women is counted, the total work participation rate of women would jump to 85 per cent from the present 24 per cent,” she said.

She also said that with Rs 500 to Rs 1000 per month but with 17 tasks every day, the ASHA health workers in rural India are grossly exploited.

She vouched for the ‘bubble-up’ policy instead of ‘trickle-down’ to achieve development like Scandinavian or East Asian countries. “Enabling of work through participatory social welfare would create employment and also help the economy grow,” she said.

Principal adviser to the commissioners of Supreme Court Biraj Patnaik said that the rise of rightist forces throughout the world is the result of disenchantment with neo-liberalism. He also said that the poverty line is flawed and no serious steps are being taken to address drought.

Eminent arts journalist Sadanand Menon said that as a result of neo-liberalistic policies, consumers today are enabling oppression through the innocent act of using a product that is enabling oppression elsewhere.

“We are living a life of branded seduction,” he said.