Despite being included in the Hindu faith, the fact that most of the dalits in india continue to work in caste assigned degrading jobs has not changed. All the so called 'polluting' jobs such as cleaning public toilets, drains, sewers, carrying of carcasses etc are entirely done by the Dalits. In fact, when such jobs arise, caste Hindus go looking for the Dalits who perform the specific job as assigned to them by the caste system. This trend of being bound to caste assigned occupations is particularly rampant among Hindu Dalits than among Dalits in minority faith in india. There, of course, is another reason that Dalits continue in their caste occupations. Most of them simply do not have the means to gain the education and occupational skills which will make them mobile. Those who have acquired education and occupational, are better off, but still have their own share of problems, such as co-workers staying away from any meaningful social interaction with them. The government, has therefore, resorted to affirmative action by providing reservation for them in employment and education. But even here they have problems. For instance, many Dalit government employess face mistreatment and discrimination from caste Hindus at the work place. Even class I officers of the Union and state government do not escape such discrimination. Similarly Dalits studying in schools and institutions of higher learning to acquire skills that will make them occupationally mobile face the same problem as Dalit government employees.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012
The word Dalit is used to identify the roughly 250 million people in India who are found at the bottom of the Indian social structure called the caste system and are otherwise also commonly known as 'untouchables'. The word 'Dalit' is of recent coinage and came into use from the 1970s onwards when the Dalit Panthers, a revolutionary group approriated this word to idenity themselves with dignity as opposed to the derogative names that are traditionally used to identify them. The word 'Dalit' itself is derived from the sanskrit word 'Dal' which means ground, crushed, decimated - a condition in which the Dalits find themselves ever since the dawn of the caste system in India. Dalits are found in every nook and corner of India and they are the ones who perform what is known as the Indian nation's demeaning work and jobs such as cleaning of drains and gutters, disposal of dead carcasses and bodies, cleaning of toilets and sweeping the streets. among other similar jobs. Dalits usually live in secluded colonies both in urban as well as rural areas. As per the last census records they comprise 30% of the nations population. This, of course, is a theoritical definition of the word 'Dalit' but the true definition of what it means to be a Dalit is only known to a Dalit for it is only he who experiences what it is to be a outcaste a untouchable on a daily basis all his life.