Kochi: Prejudice and injustice against scheduled castes still exists in India, President Pranab Mukherjee said here on Friday.
Kicking off the celebrations on the occasion of 150th birth anniversary of renowned social reformer Ayyankali here this evening, the President pointed out that the change in status and living conditions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes since the adoption of the Constitution was enormous, yet "far from sufficient".
"Disabilities have been removed in law. But, unfortunately prejudice, inequality and injustice still persists vis-a-vis Scheduled Castes in our country. We must invest our energies to remove all vestiges of disabilities from the lives of SCs, STs and BCs," he said.
"We must create a society in which minorities can live in peace and not have to fear or suffer deprivation."
Noting that inclusion and equal opportunity for all communities was the foundation of free, progressive and modern India, Mukherjee said members of all castes, religions and regions were equal partners in the nation-building.
Paying tribute to Ayyankali, the President said his life was an "incessant struggle" and he could be called the first labour leader of India.
Like Jyotiba Phule and B R Ambedkar, Ayyankali dedicated his life to the struggle against casteism and to achieve equality among all people. It was because of reformers like Ayyankali and Sree Narayan Guru that people of Kerala were able to develop their progressive outlook, which is admired across the country today, he noted.
Kerala Chief Minister Oomen Chandy, Union ministers Vayalar Ravi, K V Thomas, MLA Ramesh Chennithala and others were present on this occasion.