Dalits in India

Topics: Dalit, Caste system in India, Caste Pages: 7 (2615 words) Published: September 9, 2011
Topic for the Seminar:Dalits In India


Asst.Proffessor Dept.Of AS&H
Vitam College of Engg. Visakhapatnam
My Paper deals with the “Social Status of Dalits during the pre and post Independent India”
India is a vast country. It is a land of rich culture and heritage. It is also a land of unity in diversity with its people following multi-religion and speaking many languages. India enjoys a democratic form of government. It has become independent 62years ago.

Cast System In India:
Social structure of this country is a complex one. The people are divided into various castes. The caste system dates back to The Vedic Period. The Four major groups are the Brahmins, the Kshatriyas, the Vysyas and the Sudras. Apart from the four basic varnas there also emerged a fifth group which was called “Panchama”. They are the dalits. They were originally considered as Panchama or the fifth group beyond the four fold division of Indian people. They were not allowed to let their shadows fall upon a non-Dalit caste member and they were required to sweep the ground where they walked to remove the 'contamination' of their footfalls. Dalits were forbidden to worship in temples or draw water from the same wells as caste Hindus, and they usually lived in segregated neighborhoods outside the main village. In the Indian countryside, the dalit villages are usually a separate enclave a kilometre or so outside the main village where the other Hindu castes reside.

The Status of Dalits during the pre-Indendent days

The word “Dalit” comes from the Sanskrit language and means, “ground”, “suppressed”, “crushed”, or ‘broken to pieces’ ( Ref; Dalits in India by Mamata Rajawat page27) Dalit in my view is not the caste. He is a man exploited by social and economical traditions of the country . So Dalit is a symbol of change and revolution. Dalit status has often been historically associated with occupations regarded as ritually impure, such as involving in butchering, removal of dead animals, removal of night soil (human feces) and leatherwork. One million Dalits work as manual scavengers, cleaning latrines and sewers by hand, and clearing away dead animals. Engaging in these activities was considered to be polluting to the individual, and this pollution was considered contagious. As a result, Dalits were commonly segregated, and banned from full participation in Hindu social life. For example, they could not enter a temple or a school, and were required to stay outside the village. Elaborate precautions were sometimes observed to prevent incidental contact between Dalits and other castes. Discrimination against Dalits still exists in rural areas (where two-thirds of India's people live) in the private sphere, in everyday matters such as access to eating places, schools, temples and water sources. It has largely disappeared in urban areas and in the public sphere. Most Dalits are bonded workers, and many work in slave-like conditions to pay off debts incurred generations ago. The majority of Dalits live in segregation and experience violence, murder, rape and other atrocities . “Dalits or the downtrodden have been referred to in history, as people, without history of their own, which certainly is untrue and illogical, not withstanding the fact that they have been a marginalised lot in their own land, and treated as mere objects. Even scholars and academics have treated them as subjects for their research in social sciences, anthropology and philanthrophy. Hence there are very few objective studies or works of worth in this discipline. Status of dalit women

Till some time ago dalit women were ill-treated and they were subjected to social discrimination, and economic deprivation. They were also subjected to exploitation by their own group as well as non-dalits. Most women are ill-treated even among tribals. There are about 20,000 and odd crimes against these women (murder,rape etc). The hardships of dalit women are not simply...
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