No justice for Dalits until Caste System withers in India
By Matters India Reporter
New Delhi: Dalits will never get justice in India till the annihilation of caste is a reality, says John Dayal, a senior journalist and human rights activist.
“That is what B.R. Ambedkar spoke of. Without this, laws of any kind are but little more than lip service. Untouchability was outlawed, but remains a reality in village and city, crosses even into other religions. Reservations were made in education and government jobs, yet Dalit remain unemployed and officers are seldom given command postings,” Dayal, former president of the All India Catholic Union, told Matters India.
Ambedkar (14 April 1891 – 6 December 1956), popularly known as Babasaheb, was an Indian jurist, economist, politician and social reformer who inspired the Dalit Buddhist movement and campaigned against social discrimination against Untouchables (Dalits), while also supporting the rights of women. He was also an educationist, voice of the oppressed and the father of the Indian Constitution.
Ambedkar’s birth anniversary is celebrated on April 14. He is also one of the most revered icons for Dalits, their empowerment and emancipation.
India’s Dalits about 250 million strong (almost 20 percent of India’s population suffer socially, educationally, politically and culturally. Country’s historically disadvantaged Dalit community continues to face many types of violence and inhuman actions which are perpetrated upon them by the upper castes and others. In many places, Dalit school children are forced to sit separately during lunchtime. And when it rains, Dalits are not supposed to use an umbrella in upper caste neighborhoods.
The Dalit are at the bottom of India’s ancient caste hierarchy.
They are demanding for a longstanding system of affirmative action for the lower castes. Dalit discrimination is not gently entombed in the past. In many parts of India, people still follow caste taboos, and often violently.
According to a study conducted by Sakshi- Human Rights Watch, there are above 100 forms of untouchability and discrimination on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is prevailing. These all are the gross violation of human rights and also a violation of laws of the land.
“There are 15 percent Dalits in Lok Sabha (lower house of the Indian Parliament) and yet party whips ensure they remain disempowered and ineffective. And recently the Supreme Court in the guise of protecting upper castes has emasculated the anti-atrocity law,” Dayal said.
“The Sangh Parivar that represents the Hindu nationalist movement and its political arm the Bharatiya Janata Party ate appropriating Ambedkar, but this is just adding insult to injury. The recent protests have shown that patience is at last running short,” he said.
“The church in India needs to identify itself with all Dalits to help consolidate civil society movement in their favour,” Dayal said.