Monday, February 28, 2011


Who are Dalits?
The Outcaste (Avarnas) within the varnashram 3000 years social oppression, political exploitation, economically deprived & culturally dominated. Menial job , service provider, facilitator, etc. Untouchables, asparshiya, depressed classes, harijans, etc. Officially known as Scheduled Castes (GoI Act, 1935)
Another understanding on Dalits brings all the deprived groups SC, ST, OBC and minorities.

Meaning of Dalit
Dalit means broken people (Sanskrit, Hebrew, Latin)
A history, a people, a culture
Accommodative history
Resistance for justice, equality and peace
Strongly believes in equality, liberty and fraternity
A sense of culture with a balance between nature and human
Democratic principles based on consensus
Respect for women
Recognition and adoration of ancestors
First used in modern Indian literature by Phule
Dalit Panthers popularised in 1970s with it anti-caste, anti-class movement.

Dalits – A Factsheet
  • Total Population – 166 million
  • Percentage – 16.6% of total population of the country
  • No. of castes notified as SC – 1231
  • Literacy rate – 54.69% (census 2001); 57% (Thorat)
  • 12% in the rural areas and 28% in the urban areas are in small business
  • In 2000, about two-thirds of SC rural households were landless or near-landless, compared with one-third amongst the non-SCs
  • Fewer than one-third of S.C. households had acquired access to capital assets compared with 60 per cent among non-SCs
  • 60% of SC households depend on wage labour compared with 25% among non-SC
  • In 1999-2000, about 36% of SCs were poor as compared with 21 per cent among non-SCs
  • Prevalence of poverty is particularly high among SC households that were engaged in wage labour in rural areas (50%) and urban areas (60%).
  • On an average about 23,000 cases of human rights violations and atrocities are registered with the police annually.
  • Rate of conviction – less than 1%
  • Out of about 800 accredited journalists in India, there is none from Dalits
  • As per CSDS Survey, not even one Dalit is present out of 315 key decision makers in media.
  • In top 100 industrialists and rich people no single Dalit remains
  • So far only two Dalit Judges have found place in Supreme Court
  • There is no actor and actress in Bollywood (Film Industry).
  • No Dalit has been elevated to become the Cabinet Secretary
  • As per SCP, the amount of expenditure of budget should be according to the population but this rule has been violated (e.g., in 2007-2008 the total plan budget was 205100 crores and distribution to Dalits was only 12535.75 crores, it should have been 32816 crores; short fall of 20280 crores.
  • Out of 163 Missions of government of India abroad, about half a dozen SC/ST IFS Officers have been posted as heads of mission but none of them have been posted as heads of the missions / embassies in A and B category countries.
  • Dalit enrollment in graduate education is 8.37% as against 91.63% for others.
A snapshot on Dalit Education
  • 15% reservation in Kendriya Vidyalaya
  • Also reservation based on the population ration is allotted by State Government run schools
  • GoI also reservesed 27% in Higher Education
  • Gross Enrolment Ratio (GER) in primary classes (I-V) is 88.30 %, for middle classes (VI-VIII) is 71.86%
  • 38% Government schools, Dalits children have separate sitting arrangements.
  • 20% Dalit children are not permitted to access drinking water from the same source.
  • Dropout at primary stage (I-V) – 36.56%
  • Dropout at middle stage (VI-VIII) – 59.42%
  • Dropout at secondary stage (IX-XII) – 73.13% (MoHR)
Trends of Literacy rates – a comparison
  • Years Non-SC/ST SC GAP
  • 1961 27.91 10.27 17.64
  • 1971 33.80 14.67 19.13
  • 1981 41.30 21.38 19.92
  • 1991 57.69 37.41 20.28
  • 2001 68.81 54.70 14.11
Problems & Issues from Dalit experience
  • Access to Education (The Enrolment)
  • Retention in School (Problem of drop out)
  • Educational Provisions (environment with school and outside)
  • Policy problems
Analysis of Issues
  • High level of enrollment as per government data
  • But the data suggests that the higher the class the lesser the level of drop outs
  • Quality of education
  • Problems compelling children to drop out (within or outside).
  • Social exclusion in education exists
Access to Education
  • Dalit parents are not welcomed to the schools
  • Several prejudices and biases against Dalit community continue to be practiced
  • Discriminatory attitudes, body languages, approaches of teachers
  • Mid-day meal and untouchability practices
  • Economic issues and efforts to resolve it.
  • Denial of admission on various gr0unds
Retention in School
  • Segregation in sitting arrangements
  • Children being asked to perform tasks traditionally done by Dalits (eg: sweeping the school grounds, classrooms, bringing water for teachers etc.)
  • In most of the classroom situations, Dalit children sit on the back seats
  • In many states the reports of untouchability in drinking water and mid day meal scheme have been documented
Educational Support
  • There are many provisions for encouraging Dalit children to study like scholarships, uniforms, books, mid day meal (for all) etc. these are not in proportion to the population of dalit children’s.
  • The access to these resources takes lot of pain and majority do not get and therefore give up midway.
  • Even if it reaches to them, an insufficiency prevails.
  • Dalit parents are treated inhumanly by administration.
  • Many a times these resources are not provided to Dalit children. There is either delay or nothing is provided.
Policy Issues
  • Trends and tendencies of universalisation
  • Schools situated in non-Dalit locality.
  • Non-Dalits owe those schools not Dalits
  • Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) does not have any specific program for Dalit children.
  • Ignoring the issues of untouchability and discrimination in education have been ignored
The Underlying Principles
  • A culture of non-implementation.
  • A culture of dominance and violence
  • A culture of rule of the society
The Challenges Before Us
  • How do we look understand and address the question of Dalit Rights to Education in the wake of globalisation? (week state, corporates, market, commodity, consumption, surplus, etc.)
  • when the state itself has acquired a communal character? (Saffronisation, new syllabus, spreading hatred against indigenous and minorities, gender-biased, etc.)
  • when the state itself is casteist in nature? (non-preparedness to address the core issue of caste, freedom, wisdom, attitude towards similar groups)
  • when the entire phase of planned development in the post-independence era has failed to address the questions of marginalised? (development, upward mobility, subsistent economy, etc.)
Possible way outs
  • From co-option to co-operation; (from discriminatory educational patterns to inclusive one)
  • From tokenism to Dalit agenda (shift in educational politics with special focus on Dalit girl education)
  • Affirmation of identity (pro-human learning needs to be promoted)
  • Towards a larger common agenda (Universalisation of Education with specific focus on Dalits)
  • Rebuilding the culture of rĂ©sistance (include history of Dalit leaders and stalwarts as part of educational curriculum)
  • Alliance building with other marginalised and oppressed groups (history of oppression based on caste, tribe, gender, occupation should be exposed)

Goldy M. George
Dalit Mukti Morcha & PhD Scholar TISS

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