One gram panchayat in each district in Karnataka is being chosen to prepare an index — called Composite Dalit Development Index (CDDI) — to help gauge where Dalits stand in the process of development.

The ongoing exercise of compiling the District Human Development Report (DHDR) for the 30 districts in the State will, for the first time, have a new index to measure development on the matrix of caste, with one case study from each district.

One gram panchayat in each district is, on a pilot basis, being chosen to prepare an index — called Composite Dalit Development Index (CDDI) — to help gauge where Dalits stand in the process of development.

It will serve as an indicator of the development of Dalits in a caste-based society where deprivation cannot be understood in general parameters of income, education and health attainments.

H. Shashidhar, consultant and co-ordinator in the Planning Department, said that the process of choosing the gram panchayats, based on the criteria fixed, has now been completed. The chosen panchayat has to be at least 15 kilometres from the taluk headquarters, be a multi-caste panchayat and have more than 50 but less than 100 Dalit households.

“This model of specially measuring development from the caste perspective is based on the understanding that Dalits are structurally deprived due to multiple discriminations historically and socially, which a general Human Develop Index fails to capture,” says M. Chandra Poojary, an expert on developmental studies and professor of rural management at Karnataka Folk University, who has designed the model.

This model looks at six dimensions under Composite Dalit Development Index: Inclusion (social and institutional), discrimination (perception, protest and resolution), freedom (social, political, economic and cultural), standard of living (land and non-agricultural sources of income), gender (pre and post-delivery care, reproductive health support) and access to basic facilities (education, housing and sanitation).

Each dimension will be measured on specific indicators. For instance, under the social inclusion head questions such as access to Dalits in non-Dalit households, whether they are addressed respectfully, given access to temples and hotels would be dealt with.

Information will be elicited from primary data (through questionnaires directly addressed to the residents) and secondary data such as documents from the panchayats or local schools.

The index for each parameter is calculated on a scale of 0 to 2.

For instance, a value of “2” is given when more than 70 per cent in a panchayat say that they face no discrimination, “1” when 50 to 69 per cent say so and “0” when it is less than 49 per cent. A composite development index is calculated based on the average of value of all indicators.

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