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Dalits

In: Social Issues

Submitted By iamayellow
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Introduction

Throughout this project we will analyze the situation of the ethnic minority group of the Dalit. Our aim is to understand the reasons and consequences, of the minority group, of its circumstances. This includes its history and influential factors of religion, society and so on. The importance of the structure in society will lead, in this paper, to an interesting comparison of other social structures in other parts of the world as well as in other times in history. Such a comparison will explore the prejudices the Dalit group suffers. The term prejudice means judgment, an opinion or preconceived idea formed before knowing the certain facts. In other words it is the irrational behavior towards a group, race, religion or individual. This topic is also relevant to the topic of cultural differences as it highlights the unfairness of minority groups and convenience to become aware and later prevent.

Consequently, this project follows the structure below:

1. Influential factors
2. Current situation
3. Comparison to other (similar) social structures

4. Conclusion

Background historical information

The Dalit, or the ‘untouchables’, are at the lowest position of the Indian social ladder. The Indian caste system was formed 3000 years ago and is divided into four main groups. The Brahims, the Kshatriyas, the Vaishyas, and finally the ‘outcasts’, the Dalits, excluded from the society. This hierarchical status responds to Hindu beliefs. Depending on the caste division there is a different social status that will affect all aspects of ones life personal and professional, for example general respect, employment, medical care, restrictions to where one can live, etc.

The definition of the word ‘Dalit’, in Hindi language, means ‘broken’ or ‘crushed’. It is a term deliberately chosen by the same population as in recent years there is a stronger feeling of wrongness in the way they are treated by their own society. As a consequence of being the ‘untouchables’ they suffer from outcast conditions of extreme disadvantage, oppression and minority weakness of neither power nor knowledge to opposition. In terms of historical context the philosophy of caste is portrayed in the Manuscript, a sacred Hindu text (from the second century BCE). Their population accounts for around 250 million in total, which resembles 16 percentage of the total population.

Economic exploitation is the greatest problem for the Dalits as they live in rural areas with little or no opportunities – living in slums or pavements and tending to

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the worst jobs of lowest wages. The reason is that they are believed to be unclean in more than one way, physical and religiously. They cannot touch anybody belonging to any of the four superior casts. When they do touch another caste member, or even if their shadow falls upon them, the person from the higher caste is considered polluted with the need to perform cleansing rituals. This highlights the discrimination. There are other prejudices that the Dalit suffer and abuse their human rights. Women suffer the most abuse. Provoking mental, physical and sexual suffering. For example, they aren’t allowed to get water from a well because if they touch the water or a drop of perspiration falls into the water it shall become polluted. Therefore, Dalit women during a working day need to go home to drink water. For similar reasons women are neither allowed to enter a public park, sit with other people at gatherings, enter a temple nor give them anything by hand but rather thrown at them. Moreover, at school Dalit children mustn’t sit at the front of the class and bullied by the other classmates from different castes to them. Leading to the average age of 11 that Dalit children leave school. Overall they have strong impediments and discrimination in their daily lives. Nevertheless, discrimination doesn’t end if they convert to another religion other than Hinduism as the beliefs of the caste conditions prevails. There is a forced exclusion and constant restrictions.…...

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