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Overview of the situation faced by Dalits in India

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Dalits lie in the datum of the caste system indoctrinated by the Hindus and their position can be identified with the stance of Shudras in the age-old classification of economic intermittence still prevalent in the Indian society (Forrester, 2017). The reference of Shudras is legitimate since the sense of discrimination that caste system has propagated appears to coerce the Dalits to perform menial tasks, even in contemporary Indian society. In accordance with the ADRF documents, the Dalits in the contemporary Indian society are almost 170 million in number, which is one-sixth of the population of India (Fuchs, 2018). They have been categorized as Dalit (which literally means broken people) by the ancient Hindu caste system and, in accordance with several Dalit and Human Rights activists of India, are to make them aware about the shameful essence of their existence.

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In the course of talking about the situation of the Dalits in India, it is imperative to mention that, by the virtue of the tag untouchables, they are coerced by a superficial obligation to live a precarious existence (Ram, 2016). Apart from that, the atrocities that the Dalits are supposed to face are widespread which several Dalit activists perceived as the hindrances that disabled them to enter the mainstream. Apart from the prohibition to share foods, in more than 50% of villages, the Dalits are often denied access in the household of non-Dalits (Fuller, 2015). Several other such atrocities can be categorized as follows;

  • Denied entry in temples and such places of worship
  • Ill-treatment with the Dalit women
  • Denied access to some basic amenities (such as water or milk)
  • Denied carriers as agricultural labourers
  • Segregating seating arrangement in the schools
  • Denied entry into the PDS (Public Distribution System) shops
  • Denied entry into private health clinics or nursing homes
  • Obliged to stand in front of the upper caste men

However, it is not something, which is supposed to happen since the Constitution of India does not approve cast-based treatments and facilities. In Article 46 of the Indian Constitution, it is clearly written that the state is the in charge to promote the economic and educational interests of the weaker section of the people. In accordance with the same article, the state has a further responsibility to protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. In a country with such constitutional pledges, and after almost 68 years of independence, Ph.D. students like Rohith Vemula feel compelled to commit suicide, blaming his own existence as A FATAL ACCIDENT (Shergill, 2017).

Identifying two issues regarding the group experience of Dalits in contemporary Indian society

A comprehensible article of British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) is titled as India’s Dalits still fighting untouchability, which indicates the major issue that the Indian Dalits are facing. Apart from considering the Dalits as social outcasts, Dalits are forced to develop existential self-hatred and succumb to death simultaneously. Thus, the two major issues that the Indian Dalits seem to face are as follows;

Untouchability

In the initial phase of the BBC article mentioned earlier, the anecdote championing Dr. Vinod Sonkar appears to be intriguing since it exposes the deep-rooted cast bias in the social discourse of contemporary India. Furthermore, as Dr. Sonkar has stated in the article, the Indian government has a subtle inclination towards the cast-based discourse where they have been able to persuade the international community of human rights that it is a domestic and culturally-intrinsic phenomenon of India (Christopher, 2018). Sonkar, who is pursuing his Ph.D. in Law, has been able to establish the fact in his thesis that almost 15% of the Indian population is marginalized due to the flagrant presence of untouchability sentiments in the social discourse of contemporary India. Apart from that, Sonkar appears astonished about the fact that, apart from a constitutional ban of the untouchability practices in India, it is still valid and exercised in a considerable proportion (Rajashekar & Ramesh, 2016). Though most of the other articles have suggested that the situation is changing, Sonkar appears bitter and designates India as an apartheid-style state.

Challenges associated with inequality

The inequality that the Dalits have to face in India is chiefly based upon the inequality of opportunities. Endorsement of untouchability practices happens to undermine the endeavours of the Dalits to emancipate them from the downtrodden and marginalized class. For instance, as illustrated in the BBC article mentioned earlier, if a Dalit in India decides to give up scavenging (or other servile tasks that are bound to perform) and buy a cow to sell milk, most of the upper-class consumers refuse to go to their shops for their caste origins (Jagannathan, Selvaraj & Joseph, 2016). Thus, the caste-based social discourse of India flagrantly endorses inequality of the Dalits, simply by depriving them of the options to earn economic and social intermittence. In accordance with an anonymous correspondent of Dalit Community, it is like a stamp in your forehead, which you cannot get rid of.

Theories and Concepts related to the development of self

The theories and concepts in the context of the individual development of the Dalits will begin from a social identity of the class as not only the broken and scattered men are Dalit. In this regard, several governing concepts of Dalit literature happens to coin it as a journey; from a Dalit to a subaltern and attempted to identify this departure as accomplishing self-consciousness (Jagannathan, Selvaraj & Joseph, 2016). To some extent, this idea is true and resembles with the apprehensions of Antonio Gramsci who tends to designate Dalits being on the “margins of history”; whereas the state tends to be the “protagonist of history”. However, Marcus green and several other writers have suggested the fact that this departure from being a Dalit to a subaltern as an entrance in the mainstream through political commemoration (Shergill, 2017). On the same note, Gramsci, in his Prison Notebooks 1, has suggested the fact that this political commensuration is associated with an entrance into the value regime of ‘human’.

Thus, from this brief discussion, the self-development of the Dalits will begin with a self-consciousness about their social and existential identity. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak had raised the most valid question regarding the discourse of Dalit empowerment and that is, “can the subaltern speak”? It is very evident on the study of Marcus green regarding the encounter of Antonio Gramsci with the Southeast Asian subalterns, where Gramsci proclaimed that Dalits are exploited since they don’t know the potential and worth of the social identity (Rajashekar & Ramesh, 2016). This is also one of the main reason which marginalizes them even from the mainstream political discourse. Thus, it is approved that the self-development of the Dalit will start from self-consciousness and social awareness.

The next key to self-development of the Dalits is education. Dalits would have the right to speak in the mainstream because no have not ever attempted to establish their diction with an exclusive aesthetics. Thus, the crisis of identity is prevalent in the Dalit literature as well. Apart from that, these marginalizations from the intellectual sphere validate Gramsci’s apprehension regarding the protagonism of state. Subalterns have no voice since their diction and discourse are not ratified by the conventional mainstream aesthetics and the granted lexicon.

Potentiality of the actions of Dalit activists to change age-old practices in Indian society

In the proclamation of Sonkar, he sounded bitter and pessimistic about the future of the Dalits in the apartheid-like state of India, however, as per Amit, a Dalit from Haryana, the situation is slowly changing. However, there is no such corporeal evidence that can prove that the situation is changing as the upper-class neighbors of the Dalit appears to be possessed by a strange hostility, it seems impossible for the Dalits to overcome this misery (India’s Dalits still fighting untouchability. 2018).

However, in accordance with Dr. C. Praveen, a professor in GCTE (Thiruvananthapuram), education is the pivotal key for Dalit empowerment and overcoming the discriminative practices. Equal distribution of education holds the potential to diminish the adverse social effects on the Dalits. However, the conviction in the statement of Dr. Praveen seems to fade when the cases of the suicide of Rohit Vemula came into a front, which is pursuing Ph.D. in a University of Hyderabad (Ghatak & Udogu, 2017).

Whatsoever, Dalit activists are attempting to include them into the mainstreams where, in the panchayat village of Koregaon Bhima (Pune, Maharashtra), the triumph of the Dalits in the Battle of Koregaon against the British East India company have been celebrated to cater the sense of Dalit empowerment (Kumar & Prakash, 2017). However, the ground level truths are still dark and filthy as a cesspool.

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  • Category: Culture, World
  • Subcategory: Asia
  • Topic: India
  • Pages: 3
  • Words: 1416
  • Published: 06/12/19
  • Downloads: 27
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