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It’s time to end caste-based discrimination

[dropcap]R[/dropcap]eally it’s an eye-opener for everyone to see the atrocities committed against Dalits. Can we see remain silent spectator when such crime occurs? Poor and socially downtrodden are always easy targets everywhere all along. This can be changed only if we can have rule of law in the country without any fear or favour. Despite completing 68 years of Independence, Dalits continue to face mind-boggling social discrimination and spine-chilling atrocities across the country. The increasing attacks on Dalits and other underprivileged sections is a grim pointer to the fact that mental barriers that divide and discriminate people on the basis of narrow considerations such as caste and creed need to be demolished in order to attain an egalitarian society. All talk of their uplift by politicians is a tamasha. Despite two crucial laws to deal with crimes against Dalits – the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 – the high incidence of violence against them is disturbing.

Inspite of crimes against Dalits being reported in the national media, atrocities against them continue to occur. This shows the fearless attitude of the so-called upper castes. Today, caste has been seen as a bargaining factor for politician in politics. They are merely concerned about the atrocities people face due to radicalism of caste. The most important wish of a common man is live free and live without fear. But nowadays in India the news reports shows that there is a large increase in injustice against the poor people. It is shameful that we take the atrocities of innocent Dalits as an adjunct of our social environment and forget about them.

Such incidents reveal the fact that the caste system is dividing the Hindu society and forces the Dalits to embrace other religions, which is also not good. No economic reform can bring about real progress unless specific policies and actions are put in place to tackle inequity. In India, all inequity can be traced to caste. It’s high time both State and Central government work together to end conflicts in the name of caste. Incidents like these deserve the immediate attention of the state. As long as people do not change, it is impossible to eradicate the social evil. If India has to move ahead towards a caste-free nation, the need is for an all-embracing, inclusive pan-India social movement of social and cultural transformation. Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar showed the way: “Turn in any direction you like, caste is the monster that crosses your path. You cannot have political reform; you cannot have economic reform, unless you kill this monster.” Dr. Ambedkar himself advocated reservations for a limited period of time. Instead, it is not only extended but also included many other castes by the opportunistic politicians. Time has come to consider seriously “Sustainable Development” in “combating inequalities” irrespective of the caste. Otherwise “Casteless Society” will only remain as an impossible dream. At the same time, the caste and feelings of discrimination in whatever form it might be getting stronger not between so called “upper” and “lower”, but between the various section of the backward castes itself. Our inability to integrate and overcome the problem of social discrimination is one of the main obstacles to development. Caste discrimination is one of the key issues to be solved for developed India. Its proportion is very high in rural areas compared to urban regions.

Vinod Chandrashekhar Dixit

(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)

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