In-Depth

The perils of being a Dalit in India

The Indian constitution gurantees equality for all, but the deep-rooted caste system in the society has never allowed the Dalits to be treated on par with the "upper castes."

Authors Sukhdev Thorat and Harsh Mandar in Untouchability in Rural India argue that not much had changed in terms of “social mixing or relations across caste barriers.” Atrocities like rapes, murder, and physical assualt against Dalits are reported by the mainstream media, but social and emotional boycott largely go unnoticed.

SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act

The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was enacted to prevent atrocities against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The Act is popularly known as POA, the SC/ST Act, the Prevention of Atrocities Act, or simply the Atrocities Act.

Crime vs. atrocity

According to the Act, the term atrocity "denotes the quality of being shockingly cruel and inhumane," whereas the term 'crime' relates to an act punishable by law.

It implies “any offence under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) committed against SCs by non-SC persons, or against STs by non-ST persons. Caste consideration as a motive is not necessary to make such an offence in case of atrocity.”

Why the atrocities?

According to the National Commission for SCs and STs, “Economic dependency of the poor on rich non-SC/ST persons, social discrimination arising out of the practice of untouchability and the age-old urge to subjugate the weakest of the weaker sections make SCs/STs vulnerable and victims of atrocities…”

Offences

The Act lists 22 offences relating to various patterns of behaviours inflicting criminal offences for shattering the self-respect and esteem of SCs and STs, denial of economic, democratic and social rights, discrimination, exploitation and abuse of the legal process, etc.



>The demon called untouchability

Here are some heirarchical practices still being followed that stands as a proof that lots need to be done to eliminate untouchablity and bring true social equality in the society.

>Anti-dalit atrocities tracker

'Honour killing', murder, gangrape, denial of temple entry, beaten for wearing chappals - here's a list of crimes against Dalits that have been reported so far this year.


>From a footnote to the forefront

In fin-de-siècle Tamil Nadu, Iyodhee Thass Pandithar forged a radical identity for Dalits

>The Story of Dalit Vote: between BJP and BSP

The recent shift among Dalit voters was largely propelled by two reasons. First, pre-election alliances played an important role. Second, Narendra Modi’s popularity cut across caste lines.

>For a new paradigm of social justice

The central policy challenge for the new government is how to sustain social gains while ensuring that Dalits can participate more meaningfully in the economy, by sharing in the fruits of economic growth while contributing as well

>Enough is enough

It is shameful that we take the rape and murder of innocent Dalits as an adjunct of our social environment and forget about them.



This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | May 7, 2021 4:03:29 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/specials/in-depth/the-perils-of-being-a-dalit-in-india/article7180134.ece

Next Story