Updated: Jul 31, 2020
The enforcement of the Constitution of India in 1950 marked the end of the era of discrimination. After the report of Mandal Commission, reservations were introduced for educational institution, government jobs and government bodies.
Despite these measures inequalities are still prevalent in modern India. Caste system is one of the deepest roots of India’s cultural, social, political etc., foundation. The entire political machinery is fuelled by the caste system. The fate of a party is decided by the policy made by them for a particular caste. In India various political parties represent the interest of certain caste groups. Discrimination on the basis of caste is perennial in India. Recently, an incident occurred in Nainital, Uttarakhand, wherein a young man, aged 23 years, refused to consume the food and water which were touched by a Dalit woman(1). Besides this, there are various cases of violence powered by the all consuming fire of discriminating against certain castes. For instance, an incident took place on April 20, 2020 a female doctor based out of AIIMS attempted to commit suicide due to the harassment that she had to encounter on the basis of caste(2). In 2018, some Dalits protested against the so called upper class, in retaliation people who considered themselves of being of the upper cast raided and laid siege to a village of Dalits, thereby killing three Dalits and injuring six more(3).
According to a study(4) conducted by Dalberg Advisors (2017) & supported by the Gates Foundation it found that 96% of five million people involved in sanitation work belong to the lower caste communities. Regardless of the 2013 law which prohibited the employment of ‘manual scavengers’, a survey conducted by the government identified 54,130 people engaged in this job as of July, 2019. These are the very people who have been subjected to the evils of untouchability and have been segregated and ostracised in the name of caste and community.
Regardless of the existence of Article 15 and 17 of the Constitution of India, 1950 which talk about prohibition of discrimination on certain grounds and abolishment of the practice of untouchability, the evil practice remains de rigueur in India. It can be easily traced in our surroundings where servants who usually belong to lower castes are not allowed to sit on the same furniture and not to eat in the same utensils as other members of the house. Even during this pandemic, dalits are also being denied access to food rations and are being beaten up on raising their voices. In a recent video that went viral, a group of poor lower caste people were seen begging for food and rations and one of them had stated that to die would be better than what they have been facing in these testing times.
Not just the caste system, discrimination has also casted its evil eye towards the criteria of gender, race, creed, religion and has led to the steady rise of sexism, racial discrimination etc. For instance, recently, the citizens from all over the world have arisen in an uproar against the death of George Floyd, who was brutally killed by a cop as a consequence of racial discrimination. “I can’t breathe” was what he uttered and what has become a “war-cry” for the protestors all over the world.
According to an NGO and a study by the Karnataka State Women's University conducted in 2018, it has been found that there are more than 80,000 Devdasi(5) women in all. During this novel COVID-19 spread, it is reported that the North-Eastern students of ‘Delhi University’ (DU) are being addressed as Corona-virus, because they resemble the Chinese people in physical features. Recently, such North Eastern students have also ‘alleged’ that they have been victims of facing racial slurs like “chinki”, “momo”, “Chinese”(6) as well.
When India, as a nation is silent towards local and “causal” discrimination, on what grounds and authority is it protesting or raising its voice in the favour of the “Black Lives Matter” (BLM) campaign which has caught wind after the death of George Floyd as aforementioned. On hearing the news of the murder of a man of colour in a country like America, the entire social media was flooded with innumerable hashtags, countless movements and protests raising voice against racism were led by the citizens all over the world. Be it a person of the upper caste or lower caste, be it a person of high status or a middle class person, everyone has raised their voice in unison against such an evil practice as Racial discrimination. How hypocritical is this? Our beloved celebrities endorse fairness creams and contribute to unrealistic beauty standards openly and on the other hand criticize racism in the west and funnily enough on the topic of discrimination based on the colour of a human’s skin. Is such pseudo anti racist propaganda acceptable? If yes, then why? Why we are crying about racism in US, when we were silent when minorities were being killed in the name of race and religion in our own country? Where were we when riots were taking place during communal violence 2020? We take the pledge that “India is my country, all Indians are my brothers and sisters”, but where are we when one of our sisters are subjected to evils like domestic violence rape, sexual harassment at workplace, discrimination on the grounds of sex, unequal pay? Where are we when our brothers are killed in anti Muslim or anti Hindu riots in the name of religion? The day these questions are answered, is the day India will rise from the ashes, anew.
Delhi Metropolitan Education
3rd year (6th semester)