Posted by: unhcragd | June 4, 2009

‘Untouchable’ – Elected India’s First Woman Speaker

This from AFP:

Click here for full story.

India’s parliament elected on Wednesday its first woman speaker, who is also a member of the low-caste Dalit community, an event hailed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as a “historic occasion”.

Meira Kumar, 64, was elected unopposed by a voice vote in India’s 543-seat lower house of parliament, which includes 59 women MPs.

In recent years, many Dalit voters have switched their support to regional parties with a specific “Dalit agenda” of alleviating the problems faced by India’s lowest castes.

Shunned by higher castes, Dalits generally perform the lowliest occupations, including scavenging on rubbish dumps, and are the poorest in terms of income, literacy and land.

Naming Kumar as speaker “also projects the Congress as pro-women,” said political analyst and author Rasheed Kidwai.

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