UNTOUCHABILITY IN RURAL INDIA

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1 UNTOUCHABILITY IN RURAL INDIA

2 Does it still exist? How widespread is the practice?

3 Video Clip

4 Who are these Untouchables? Defined by the Government of India as Scheduled Castes Dalit ( down-trodden ) is now the more generally accepted term for them About 150 million Dalits in India (1/6 th of entire population) More than just prohibition of physical contact what defines the Dalits is a much broader set of social sanctions Exclusion Humiliation subordination Exploitation

5 A little History Origins: Racial theories Religious theories Economic Theories Anti-untouchability movements: Bhakti Movement (10-13 th Century) Arya Samaj Gandhi s efforts through Harijan Sevak Sangh Anti-Brahmin movement (mid 19 th century) Mobilization led by Ambedkar (20 th Century) State Provisions Practice of untouchability is an offence Untouchability (Offences) Act (1955) Protection of Civil Rights (Amendments) Act (1976) Prevention of Attrocities Act (1989)

6 Socio-economic profile Indicators Dalits (SCs) Upper Caste Hindus Rural Urban Rural Urban Population (%) Below poverty line (%) Median monthly per-capita consumption Rs. 372 Rs. 512 Rs. 515 Rs. 870 Illiteracy (%) (female/male) 70.2/ / / /12.0 Graduates (%) (female/male) 0.4/ / / /19.1 Agricultural laborer (%) Self-employed in agriculture (%) Casual Laborer * NSSO data, 55 th round,

7 Forms of Untouchability Private sphere: Entry into upper-caste house/temple/shop Facility for drinking water Exchange of money or merchandise Services of the barber/potter/tailor Paying wages Working together with upper-caste worker Employment in construction of houses Movement on the public road in the village

8 Forms of Untouchability Public sphere Sitting arrangements in Panchayat, primary school Drinking water facility/mid-day mean in primary school Relationship and interaction between upper-caste teacher and Dalit teacher in the school Interaction between upper-caste student and Dalit teacher in the school Relationship between upper-caste and Dalit primary students outside the school Housing for Dalit teacher in the village Post office services mail delivery, buying stamps Travelling by public transport

9 Forms of Untouchability Other spheres: Public distribution shop Health services (especially Primary Health Center) Visit of health workers to Dalit households and providing services Cremation/burial places Wedding, funerals and festivals Teashops and hotels Washing at village stream, etc.

10 How Prevalent is Untouchability? The study finds, it is still widely prevalent Primarily in the interpersonal and cultural-religious spheres More than 50% of the villages surveyed: Denied entry into non-dalit houses Prohibitions against food sharing Denied entry into places of worship Treatment of women by other women

11 Treatment in Basic Govt. Services Form/site of untouchability Percentage where it is practiced Entry into police station 27.6 (109) 395 Entry into ration shop 25.7 (129) 502 Entry into Post office 19.2 (82) 427 Access to public roads 18.4 (90) 490 Entry into Primary Health Care 18.1 (68) 375 Entry into panchayat office 14.4 (72) 499 Entry into polling booths 12.3 (53) 431 Total Surveyed villages

12 Access to Basic Public Services Form/site of untouchability Percentage where it is practiced Denied access to water facilities 48.4 (255) 527 No entry into village shops 35.8 (186) 519 No access to restaurants/hotels 25.6 (92) 359 No entry into private health center 21.3 (74) 348 No access to public transport 9.2 (41) 447 No entry/seating in cinema halls 3.2 (6) 187 Total Surveyed villages

13 Treatment in other Public Services Form/site of untouchability Percentage where it is practiced Denied Barber s services 46.6 (229) 491 Denied washermen s services 45.8 (194) 424 Separate seating in restaurants/hotels 32.7 (144) 441 Separate utensils in restaurants/hotels 32.3 (145) 449 Denied Carpenter s services 25.7 (117) 455 Tailor will not take measurements 20.8 (96) 462 Potter will not sell pots 20.5 (75) 365 Untouchability during transactions in shops 18.5 (87) 470 Total Surveyed villages

14 Restrictions on Public Behavior Form/site of untouchability Percentage where it is practiced Ban on Marriage processions on public roads 47.4 (229) 483 Forced to stand in front of upper caste men 25.6 (136) 532 Ban on festival processions on public roads 23.8 (114) 478 Cannot wear new/ bright clothes 19.0 (101) 531 Cannot use umbrellas on public roads 16.7 (82) 490 Cannot wear dark glasses, smoke etc (66) 481 Cannot use chappals on public roads 10.6 (47) 443 Cannot use bicycles on public roads 7.1 (32) 448 Total Surveyed villages

15 Cultural Sanctions Form/site of untouchability Percentage where it is practiced Denied entry into upper-caste houses 73.0 (314) 430 Social sanctions against inter-dining 70.1 (305) 435 Denied entry into public places of worship 63.9 (337) 527 Denied access to cremation/burial grounds 48.9 (256) 524 Total Surveyed villages Forced to seek blessings of upper-castes for marriages Forced to seek permission from uppercastes for marriages 8.6 (41) (45) 533

16 Access to Work and Resources Form/site of untouchability Percentage where it is practiced Denied work as agricultural laborer 35.5 (158) 445 No touching when paying wages 37.1 (174) 469 Paid lower wages for the same work 24.5 (119) 486 Dalits not employed in house construction 28.7 (152) 529 Denied access to irrigation facilities 32.6 (152) 466 Denied access to grazing/fishing grounds 20.9 (76) 364 Not allowed to sell to milk cooperatives 46.7 (162) 347 Prevent from selling in local markets 35.4 (165) 466 Not allowed to buy from milk cooperatives 27.8 (100) 360 Total Surveyed villages

17 The Market Mantra Can the market force help make the world flat?

18 Dalit Women s Plight Dalit women under the combined weight of: Class Caste Patriarchy

19 Violence Against Dalits : A total of 285,871 cases of various crimes against Dalits On average, more than 28,000 cases of caste discrimination and atrocities against Dalits every year (during 1990s) In 2002, about 90% of the crimes were in the 11 surveyed states Demands for rights often meet with violence

20 Signs of Change Demanding rights, equality and dignity Striving for education Symbols and rituals Dalit literature Dalit organizations Political participation Using the law and state provisions Awareness and assertion

21 Finally Are there signs of improvement? Yes, things are definitely better than what they were 50 years back They are not passive victims in contemporary India despite tremendous odds, they struggle for their life, dignity and equality However, untouchability is not clearly a fastfading remnant of our past

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