In India, Dalits Are Still Considered Untouchables

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Long before the pandemic started and people started to maintain social distance with one another, there was a section of Hindu people who were regarded as "untouchables". And people of higher Hindu castes had started to maintain social distance from the lower Hindu castes that are "Dalits".

This system or the practice of untouchability towards the Dalit caste has existed for a very long time. The hatred towards a certain caste is a result of the hierarchy and segmentation of the caste. People belonging from the Dalit case stand at the bottom of the Hindu caste system.

The word "Dalit" means 'broken' or 'crushed' Dalit caste faces daily discrimination, injustice, and violence from people belonging to the higher caste. More than 200 million people are considered as "Untouchables" in India and so when they are born they are deemed to be impure and less human.

Ancient Roots

The caste system has got ancient roots and that is how it became a means of social stratification, where the low castes like "Dalits" are expected perform dirty, dangerous, and degrading tasks in the society that no one belonging to the higher castes will perform.

In India, the caste system has a deeply embedded root not only in villages or rural areas but also in modern, trendy industrialized cities. However, educated one might be, they are recognized by their caste at the end. In India, the caste is seen as the division of laborers rather than the division of labors.

The caste system has four primary castes: Brahmins who are the priests, Kshatriya includes warriors and kings, Vaishya includes farmers, and artisans and Shudras include servants. 

Dalit falls below the four caste system making it the lower caste referred to as manual scavengers and are considered unworthy to be included in any of the above casts.

Like every other person, Dalits cannot lead a simple life and do normal work like people belonging from other caste does. Dalits have to perform works that no one else wants to do like preparing bodies for the funeral, cleaning drains, killing pests, or tanning hides. 

In Hinduism, doing anything related to cow or dead bodies is deemed as impure.

Dalits were even restricted to go to any places like temples where higher caste people go. The shadows of Dalits shouldn't even touch those of higher caste people. Place of worship, funeral places, wells all were separate for the Dalits. 

They couldn't draw water from the same well as their touch would poison the water.

Their houses were situated outskirts of villages or outside the village boundaries as they couldn't stay in places where higher castes people roam. A Dalit can only marry a fellow Dalit and will be treated as downtrodden. 

India can be a democratic party, but justice, equality, liberty, and fraternity are not available to the untouchables.

Vile Discrimination

According to a survey,37 percent of Dalits live below the poverty line, 54 percent are undernourished, 45 percent remain illiterate and 83 per 1000 children die before turning one year old. They are not allowed to enter police stations to file a complaint even sometimes they are not allowed to sit in schools besides other children.

This huge margin of inequality, injustice, and discrimination leads them to face gross violence every day. The equality mentioned in the constitution will look like a parody in front of the discrimination that Dalits have to face. The government doesn't bring any new policy, bill, or act to stop this vile discrimination.

According to the survey released by National Crime Record Bureau(NCRB) in 2019, nearly 10 Dalit women are raped every day and Uttar Pradesh registers a higher number of rape cases of Dalit women in India. Most of the time, many cases don't get registered or reported.

In the recent Hathras rape case, the police didn't want to register a complaint against the four accused as they belong to the higher caste and the woman was a Dalit, so she will have no opportunity for justice. Cases like this expose the accountability of justice and the government towards the Dalits.

The violence against the downtrodden and the lower caste people will always exist unless and until a new social order which is equal for all is introduced and unless people remove religious dogmatism from their minds. Enforcement of laws is needed.

Change of attitude is needed to improve the situation for Dalits and people who are educated must question the system that discriminates against other humans.

Written by - Srijita Roy

Edited by - Rudransh Khurana

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