Dalits remain on the margins

Dalits remain on the margins and as deprived as ever

By Abdullah E (TimesWireService.Com)

They are treated as outcast and are deprived of equality in almost all parts of the country. They cannot dare to share meals with the upper caste people, cannot dare sit with them and cannot even ride on horseback while going to marriage ceremonies.

When they reach upper caste localities, the groom has to dismount from the horseback and walk on sideways so he doesn’t come in contact with the upper caste people. This was the trend a thousand years ago and the same treatment is meted out to them even in the twenty-first century.

No other community on earth, other than Dalits in India, has been deprived of social justice throughout the history. Despite utter restructuring of social order thanks to the changing world view of global community, Dalits in India remained at the bottom of the table. The out-dated cast system still suppresses this large human force, using cruel ‘social exclusion tools’.

Dalits across the largest democracy in the world remain sidelined in all walks of life including education, employment and even in the spaces created to preserve human rights. More than 200 million Dalits who account for near 20% of the population couldn’t hold on even a single percentage of benefits enjoyed by the miniscule upper caste elites in the country.

The fifth class or the ‘untouchables,’ in the cast oriented Indian milieu, hardly moved a bit ahead from their historical backwardness, once their counterparts fly high in the age of globalization. Since the era of Vedas, the working class or the ‘sons of soil’ have been mistreated by the rulers as well as fellow ruled. Dalits were treated as good-for-nothing thanks to their cast occupation and family lineage.

These people, who made the subcontinent fit for a take- off, were under physical and psychological harassment from the so-called sons of gods, before and after colonial period. Independent India which was hoped as the land of freedom and equality, but hired all the social evils to keep the reign of the state in the hands of elites, especially Brahmins.

Even in the 60s of freedom, the devil-minded social strata of the country follows erstwhile social exclusion methods like keeping Dalits away from temples, denying them drinking water from village well, let alone access to education and social justice. There is little sign of a getaway, for Dalits, from their own ‘cursed shadows.’ The giant 'owners of the land' continue atrocious killing and rape against the struggling people.

No government measures could bridge the gap between the depressed and elite ones. Though the Scheduled Cast and Scheduled Tribe provision made castism illegal back in 1989, no stone were moved to build up a social system promising much hoped equality. The have-nots are discriminated even before the law, while the rules and regulations offer a safe-haven for the haves.

A recent survey had disclosed that the poorest of the poor across the country are the victims of corruption in public services. The government and the watch dogs of the system blind their eyes towards the cruel scams in basic services like, food grains, health care , primary education depended by poor.

Alarmingly, most of this ill-fated below poverty line people accounts for Dalits and other back ward communities. And the ever widening urban rural divide can be seen as the offshoot of this elite nexus in government policy making and development planning. It is hard to believe that the so-called western- educated Brahmins would work against their household belief.

The educational scenario of Dalits is unimaginative to any person from a civilized society. The human resource of Indus Valley tradition is now struggling to find their space in the competitive world of globalization.

The Poona Pact which offered a few seats in the national legislature reserved for Dalit candidates was not enough to address the variety of issues faced by this large community. The elite-oriented governing system allowed the Dalit politicians to do nothing other than playing cards for Brahmin masterminds. The Brahmin majority in the bureaucracy used the same‘cursed shadow’ to run their castist ideals unabated.

The valiant struggles led by Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar had brought a kind of hope at the end of the tunnel, but failed to overcome the colossus of Brahmanism at large. However, it helped the deprived people to realize the possibilities of questioning the suppressing machinery. Ambedkar’s call for social elevation via educational empowerment made waves among Dalits and reminded them to knock on the doors.

Since the education plays pivotal role in the social empowerment of social strengthening, the elite system hesitated to open the windows for Dalits. There for Dalits could not bring sea changes in the educational sphere from the elementary enrolment to the University education.

The iron hands of castism have been either excluding the aspirants from Dalits or make them prisoners in All-Dalid schools. The number of preliminary enrolment among Dalits is not better than what it was decades before. Though numbers showed a slight increase during the last years of 20th century, coming up to 63.25% from a terrible 47.7% , it was too short comparing to the elites, whose number sky rocketed from 73.22 % to 82.9%.

The insufficient policies of government and the elite-appeasing approach of intellectuals and media made the situation too miserable in the 21st century. Dalits and Adivasis are now treated as the ‘unwanted subjects’ by state and central governments. The poor people had to sacrifice their land and health for the well-being of corporate interests of the ruling class.

Unfortunately, the watching dog of the democracy gives little space for Dalit issues in the media business, let alone any Dalit journalist in the office. It’s high time the humanity in India should be up in arms against the injustice and inequality faced by Dalits. It is the need of hour to cal for an inclusive social action across the country.

If not how India can boast for its booming economy and international status thanks to a vibrant variety of population dominated by youngsters. To fly high on the horizon India should stick on its great tradition of mass culture and social harmony. But, it’s the time to come out of the social prison preserved by cast system.


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