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India's Outcasts: Dalits

Did you know that India has more slaves than all other countries have together?

dalits1

Did you know that more than 200 million people in India are traditionally regarded as untouchable and live in the shadow of the wealthy and high-technological society as India is today?  Did you know that every day, 1.3 million people in India are forced to clean human excrement with their bare hands?

Dalit means beaten into pieces or smashed, and refers to those who fall outside any of the four castes of the Hindu caste system, and the Dalits are history’s longest standing oppressed people.

This group of people designated as Dalits are denied the right to education and healthcare. In many areas in India, Dalits are denied to enter the police station, denied access to the national security system that is supposed to stand up, represent and help people in need. The socially and economically vulnerable situation Dalits are living in, put them in high risk of discrimination, dehumanization, degradation and violence every day. Also, Dalits are also at great risk of being exploited and trafficked.

Women and children are exploited to work under slavelike conditions. The Dalits are basically only seen as suitable for jobs such as drain cleaner, pall-bearer and prostitutes at the temples.

Dalits are discriminated against just because they were born into poorer conditions. Let me give you an example. After a Dalit has entered a tea shop and finished his or her tea, the Dalit is expected to crush the cup on the ground to prevent another person from being polluted by the cup the Dalit touched.

In 2006 Prime Minister Singh was the first leader in India to compare the condition of the Dalits with the black South Africans under apartheid and stated that the only parallel to the practice of untouchability was Apartheid. The fact that it has been compared to Apartheid in South Africa shows the dreadful reality facing people in India today.

These people are living a reality that is far beyond what many of us can imagine. We need to show our solidarity and help.

I do believe that by doing what we can, with what we have and where we are, we can together make a change.

Dalit Freedom Network is an organization which works worldwide to raise awareness of Dalits’ situation in India. They work for education, economic development, healthcare and social justice for Dalits in India.

For further information check out their website to find out more about Dalit Freedom’s great job to prevent and combat the horrible situations the Dalits experience today. You can also find out what you can do to support and be a part of making a difference for Dalits in India.

Featured image for this post is from Supporting Dalit Children.
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Category: Uncategorized
Tagged with: Apartheid    Dalit Freedom Network    Dalits    Discrimination    educaiton    India    Injustice    Rights    Trafficking    violence

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    I think this is one of the most important information for me.
    And i’m glad reading your article. But wanna remark on some general things, The web site
    style is ideal, the articles is really excellent : D. Good job, cheers

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    Yes I believe dalits are slaves still. Because you can rarerly find dalit leaders and most of the time dalits allow themselves to be misled by the leaders of other communities.

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    Jasmine Bala

    Great post mari! As a citizen of India, I know for a fact that these people who were once untouchables and belonged to the Dalit caste are not given the basic amenities that ordinary citizens can afford to buy. Unlike the developed countries, the Indian government does not offe it’s citizens basic financial security. However, they are not held captive in any way, so it would not be right for us to call them “slaves.” Even while working in the most impoverished of circumstances, they do receive a wage for their labor, that is almost, if not equal to, the minimum wage instituted by the government. They also have the freedom to choose their place of work and the circumstances that they work under, unless they are financially constrained and take up any form of employment that they receive. Even though we are highly populated and a large chunk of our population does not have their basic needs fulfilled, there is still a high demand for work labor (at the construction sites, in households etc) that is not met to its full potential. It is this demand for labor, and the rising price of hard labor, in terms of wage per workr that is responsible for the slowly rising economic growth among the impoverished. The Dalits are no longer in the state they used to be, and the caste system, though it still shadows parts of India, is close to non-existent in the urban areas where most of India’s workforce thrives. They may battle harsh living conditions, but I do believe that they will soon lead better lives. It’s a great way to put mattes in perspective. Thanks for the post!

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      Yes there is a space to employ dalits in India as Jasmine Bala mensioned. But the stresses of the treatment the Dalits’ ancestors recieved are in the gene of most of the Dalits. That affects whole of their activities and communities of Dalits. Is there any solution for it?

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    Jordan Teague

    This is such an important issue! The discrimination and oppression the Dalits face is unconscionable and being born into an occupation like that is a horrible life to face. Do you think that developing proper and sustainable sanitation systems in both rural and urban India would help their situation, at least in regard to dealing with feces?

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      Sorry for my late reply Jordan! And thanks a lot for your comment. I appreciate your engagement in terms f this topic. The situation for the Dalits in India is dreadful and honestly speaking I was overwhelmed and astonished by the facts and life some people are living in today`s India. That kind of discrimination the Dalits experiences and the practice of untouchability are, as the Prime Minister Singh stated 2006, similar to South Africa and apartheid. And this happens today! According to what you mentioned above, I definitely do think that could be a contributing factor to improve their situation. If India could have a proper sanitation system that could take care of the feces the Dalits would not have to. So it is a good thing to start with, indeed!

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