Sunday, March 1, 2015

Socio-Economic Status of Dalit Women across Indian Metropolitan, Urban and Rural Societies.

  Socio-Economic Status of Dalit Women across Indian Metropolitan, Urban and Rural Societies.
  This theme topic is based on the worries of the society about its unfortunate segment of society , which have been treated with contempt  far  ages by all religions. The Dalit women is perhaps a name of a soul covering Skelton which serves everyone in society  with little hope  of any care or concern for herself. She is being neglected by the society for being one whose job is to work for the welfare of society.   She works form scavenger to midwife, labourer to agriculturist, house wife to warrior like other women, she is a mother, a sister, a daughter a wife, a Divine solace and carer.  She cleans and comforts others.  But the society cleaner was hated, hated and hated again. Her socio storey is long narration of wins and losses.                                                                                                       Dr. B.R Ambedkar the jurist, economist, educationist besides the father of Indian Constitution said “Unity is meaningless without the accompaniment of women. Education is fruitless without educated women, and agitation is incomplete without the strength of women”                                   
Dr. S. Radhakrishnan  the  Indian President, world repute philosopher and  writer said  “ You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the condition of the status of women”.                                                                                              
  Dalit woman is disadvantageous on two accounts as being a Dalit and a Woman.
Woman and society:                                                                                  In the early times of human history, the families were Matriarchal (mother as head of the family).Although woman was not weaker than man, but  during menstruation, pregnancy & child birth she had to depend upon man., who subsequently enslaved her and society took the form of “Patriarchal” (Father as Ruler & Head of family). Still woman continued to enjoy authority & respect in the family. This continued in the Vedic Period, and women continued enjoying equal rights as men with liberty to choose their husbands in open “Sayambars” The respect enjoyed by woman of that time   could be gauged from the verse” Yater Nariasye Pujante, Ramte Tater Devita (God  reside at places where women are worshiped)” No religious ceremony by man was complete without participation of his wife and Rama had to get statue of Sita made to carry on with ceremonies for Ashawmegh Yagna. But process of down grading & enslaving woman had set in. The treatment of Sita at the hands of Lord Rama is a pointer. The Valmiki Ramayana tells about Ahalya wife of Gautama sage, who instead of getting sympathies for fouling her chastity forcibly by Indra, she was punished for none of her faults by her sage husband and she was made a stone figure. Further enslaving of women started in the later Vedic period. The  Hindu Law Givers like Manu although, he too was born out of a mother ( woman ) , codified   in his book Manu Smiriti (200 BC)  proclaiming these to be the Devine laws. Manu Said ” It is the very nature of woman to corrupt men Verse 2(213 ) ; woman has no right to acquire property Verse  8 (416 ); Rules  like  serving husbands faithfully even, if he is devoid of any good qualities verse 154 (5); a girl, a young woman, or  even an old woman should not do anything independently, even in her  own houseVerse147 (5),She should not be independent 5(148). There is no Vedic verse for women .A  widow should be long suffering, until death, self restrained, and chaste( Abstain re marring ) verse158 (5)” She should obey her husband while he is alive and not violate her vow to him when he is dead151(5) ,Child marriage supported 9(94)  Shankara charya of Kerela ( 9th Century AD ) proclaimed “A woman is a sure gate of  hell & she is poison in the disguise of nectar” So called Golden rule Of Gupta  dynasty kings proved   worst period for women, when  Brahminical Rules  & dogmas ,codified against women were got strictly enforced . The system started for keeping unmarried girls/ women in temples “Dev- Dassies” for the service including sexual abuse by the priest in the name of God. Mahatam Gandhi while writing in  the Young India(  6Oct.1927) wrote , he was pained to know that many temples in India were no better than prostitution centres. In Ramchariter Manas ( 1577 CE)  Goswami Tulsi  Das  Says in Arandkand salok 9 “ No body can be as vile as a woman ,who for a moment’s enjoyment, does not  understand the pains of   hundreds of births ”  In Saloka 5 he further says      “ A woman is impure from her birth” page 655 A woman is the lowest of those who rank as the lowest of the low.   Page 697 A drum, a rustic, a sudra,a beast and a woman all these require beating      Page 855,( Romanised edition). Where as it is also said that his poise  wife  Trilotama put him on the Bhagati Marg when she decried him  and said I condemn such love for me  which makes you to run after me, even when she had gone to her fathomer’s place for a few days. A sage named Samanti is reported to have said” A girl is a sale able commodity.”
              Even Muslim religion advocates strict rules for women to remain in Parda (veil). "Men are above the women, because Allah has given the one part a superiority above the other." Islam/Koran – Sure 4”."The women shall be servants to their men who are their masters."so says “ Christian Bible: Paul to the Ephesians in the New Testament”  .
              Women are suppressed, disregarded and abused by every religion in the world. They are considered inferior to men by these organizations and are therefore condemned to be a second class type of person. A great many women have no rights at all. Women was frightened of the curse of God for her non compliance to her duties towards society and her husband. Her husband was declared her  God.  She was promised by Hindu religious   pundits 35 million years SAWARG( Heaven) in the company of her husband, if she committed SATI ( Bride burning with dead body of her husband).  In Bengal alone from (1815-1828) as many as 8164 women were burnt alive.   Killing of a girl child is not new. In the British controlled Central province in 1836 in a group of 10,000 Rajput families not even single girl child was found. The Dogra Rajputs of Jammu Province used to burry newly born girl child till 1947 as all rules and reforms could hardly make them to leave this unlawful activity.  Besides other reasons dowry was cited as one reason to kill the new born girl child.  The girl child killing has changed names and methods with time. New name for it is female foeticide i.e. the act of destroying a female foetus. This has upset the male-female ratio adversely. As per 2011 census figures some of the flaring examples are for every  1000 men number of women availability is Chandigarh U.T. (818)  Haryana (877) Delhi UT (866) J&k (883) with all India ration as 944.   Illiteracy was another virtue of women. Indian women in i 1900 had almost zero women  literacy which rose in  1951 to 7.93% literates   against 24.95% men with improvement  it rose to females 56.99% against males as 71.22% in 2011 . In J&K in 2011 males (78.26%) and  females(58.01%) are literate. Again rural India has 59.4% with urban 80.3% literates. In 2011 the male and  female literacy for those who have gained education up to  Higher Secondary is respectively 7.3% and 5.9%.  It is interesting to know the definition of a literate person too.  A person aged seven and above, who can both read and write with any understanding in any language, is treated as literate. Statistics data tells one out of every three girls growing up here will not finish primary school. There are other road blocks in women empowerment as school drop outs, selling of brides, bride beating, bride burning, polygamy, polyandry and many more.                                                                                                Road barriers in the socio-economic well being of  a Dalit women are in  addition to what have been described above                                                                        The word “Dalit” comes from the Sanskrit root  “dal” and it  means “broken,  crushed ,ground-down, ruined, torn, split pulse, downtrodden, or oppressed   Panchamas “ Fifth Varna” and Asprushya ,out castes ( Untouchables). As no split grain can germinate so  was a Dalit . They were also known as Depressed Classes, and Harijans and now increasingly adopting the term “Dalit” as a name for themselves.  “Dalit” refers to one’s  class rather than caste; it applies to members of those menial castes which have born the stigma of “untouchbility” because of the extreme impurity and pollution connected with their traditional occupations.  Dalits are ‘outcastes’ falling outside the traditional four-fold Hindu caste system consisting of the hereditary Brahmin, Kshatriya, Vaishya, and Shudra classes. Dalits  are considered impure and polluting and are therefore physically and socially excluded and isolated from the rest of society. Dalits are a mixed population, consisting of groups across India. They speak a variety of languages and practice various religions. Many names have been used for this group of people .They are historically disadvantaged people .  In 1932, the British Raj recommended separate elections to select leaders for Dalits in the Communal Award. When M.K. Gandhi opposed this and the negotiated solution, produced the Poona Pact with B. R. Ambedkar.Sudras of Hindu classification are those who are now classified as  Other Back Word Classes( OBC) and their population as per 1931 censes was 52%. So combined Outcastes (  SC”s plus ST’s) and OBC’s  form above 75 % of Indian population.
            In 2011, Dalits( Out castes) made up 24.4% of India's population. Among Indian states, in 2011 Dalits were the most prevalent in Punjab, at about 31.9 percent   while Mizoram had the lowest at approximately zero. Lakshadweep has the highest proportion of STs at 94.8 per cent. In Jammu and Kashmir S/C’s alone are 8% but divided in 13 different castes. Population of Dalit women is about 52.4% in J&K. They are  still a neglected and hated  lot in free India. According to a 2014 report to the Ministry of Minority Affairs by Amitabh Kundu, over 44.8% of Scheduled Tribe (ST) and 33.8% of Scheduled Caste (SC) populations in rural India were living below the poverty line in 2011-12, compared to 30.8% of Muslims. In urban areas, 27.3% of ST and 21.8% of SC populations were poor, According to a 2014 report by The India Government  Research Institute,  Dalits constitute nearly half of primary school drop outs. Among state schools, 88% discriminated against Dalit children, while 79% required Dalit students to sit in the back of the classroom. In 79% of schools, Dalit children are forbidden from touching mid-day meals. They are required to sit separately at lunch in 35% of schools, and are required to eat with specially marked plates in 28%. In high schools, higher caste students are often advised not to mingle with Dalits. In September 2014 in Tamil Nadu, a Dalit plus one class student at the Government Boys Higher Secondary School of Thiruthangal in Virudhunagar district was attacked and his wrists were cut by non-Dalits, because he wore a watch to school. In May, 2012 Scheduled Caste people were beaten in Kathua village for drawing water from a upper caste well, when the well stood repaired with Government funds. Discrimination also exists in access to healthcare and nutrition. Medical field workers do not visit 65% of Dalit settlements. 47% of Dalits are not allowed entry into ration depots; 64% are given less grain than non-Dalits; and 52% are given grains from a distance.  Still Manual Scavenging and carrying on head human excrete is prevalent in some parts. Dalit women have to perform still such inhuman acts.  She removes the contents of toilets daily using just their hands and a plastic shovel. Not only is this for majority of Dalit population there no personnel hygienic conditions in India.  India is the country with the highest number of people (597 million people) practicing open defecation as of 2012.
 Dalit women are paid less wages.  Since she has to get engaged in manual labour so she is unable to attend properly and effectively to her house hold job including child care.   This rebounds into illiteracy, poverty, unhygienic house hold atmosphere.  So Dalits constitute nearly half of
primary school dropouts. Dalits constitute majority of population below poverty line 25.7%  with ST’s 45.8%( urban)and 35.8% (rural),besides SC’s 38.3% (urban) and 35.5% (Rural).On inflation adjusted 1973 Rupee basis, the average income of Indian agrarian laborer was Rs. 7.20 per year in 1885, against an inflation adjusted poverty line of Rs. 23.90 per year. In 2014 anybody whose monthly income is above  Rs972/- per month( Rs32/-daily) is considered above poverty line in India when each litre of milk costs nearly Rs 40/-. UNICEF, using 2005-2006 NFHS-3 sample survey showed 7.4 million children born with  underweight(39 percent), women under weight at the delivery time and  40% unban children 6-59 months age were showing less height than world standards. A crime against Dalits happens every 18 minutes — 3 women raped every day, 13 murdered every week, 27 atrocities every day, 6 kidnapped every week. The Bhagana Rape case is an example of atrocities against Dalit girls and women. Bangalore the best metropolitan city of India  records the most offences against Dalits. Inter-caste marriage has been proposed as a remedy, but only 5% of Indian marriages cross caste boundaries. Housing is another essential requirement and in 2009 there were about 170 million people living in slums. About 66% of Mumbais residents live in shanties, including about 40% of the city's police force.  Forests which were providing source of livelihood to Dalits in a verity of ways, are being systematically taken away from the  Dalit population who were so far depending on these  natural resources. Forests were providing raw materials for crafts, small scale industries, verity of  herbs, grazing places foe  domestic animals etc. Since more than 60 per cent of the population does not participate in any economic activity. The figures may seem alarming but then students and homemakers have been categorised as 'non-workers', along with dependents, pensioners and beggars.  Alternative sources of work for able bodies will have to be found for well being of society.                                                           Modern Challengers:--
Keeping in view un-natural law enforcing by men duly sanctified with discimatory religious sanctions against women, besides Dr. Ambedkar, many saints like Guru Nanak, Kabir, Ravidas & social reformers like Swami Vivekananda. Dayananda, Raja ram Mohan Roy,  Periyar E.V. Ramaswami, Mahatama Jyotiba phuley raised their voices  in favour of women equality in status with man. Ever condemned British Rule in India came to rescue of Indian women in a big way, as it banned Sati System on the insistence of  Raja Ram Mohan Roy . Mahatama Jyotirba Phule  and his wife revered Mata Savitribhai Phule opened 18 schools for girls in Pune  starting from ever first school for girls on 1-1-1848, and adopted son born to a  Brahmin widow as their heir  against strict opposition from Hindu clergies. In recent past a writer ( Sahir Ludhanavi) summed up the plight of women in his song” Aurat Ne Janam Diya Mardon Ko, Mardon  Ne usse Bazar Diya.  (Woman gives birth to man, but man put her in Prostitution centre)” Constitution Provisions scuttled:-
The Indian Constitution banned practice of Untouchbility under Art 17 in 1950.  Article 17 reads “Abolition of Untouchbility, Untouchbility is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden The enforcement of any disability arising out of Untouchbility shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law” Prevention of atrocities Act 1989 was another a Act for the prevention of atrocities on SC’s & ST’s, but hardly any visible change has been observed at ground level. Proposed Hindu code Bill of Dr. Ambedkar would have changed the fate of India women drastically  and thus cut her centuries  old slavery chains .But alas, it was scuttled  in and outside the Parliament by vested interests pro  status  quo. On this Dr. Ambedkar resigned from the Union Ministry, creating a rare history of sorts for the women cause. But later it was passed in parts and have improved the condition of the Indian women. The improvement in condition of Dalit women are welded with the improvement of women as a whole.  Despite all disadvantages a Dalit woman is courageous like Mata Savitribai Phuley  the first woman teacher in India,  scarifying self and caring like Mata Ramabai Ambedkar, warrior like   Jalkaribai Kori the Dalit commoner in chief of Maharani Jansi,  Martyrs( 1875)  Mahaveeri Devi( Bhangi) and her 22  other companions, Udhadevi,who killed 36 British soliders single handed, athlete like P.T. Usha,  artist like Oscar winner Pinki ( Slumdog),  philanthropist  Nani bai  (  prostitute) who donated one lakh to Lady Harding Medical College, shrewd politician as Mera Kumar and Behan Mayavati . She has the capabilities to change the world scene if given a chance. Caste based society is the greatest curse for a woman and so Dalit woman too.                                                                          A Dalit woman is strong to face life odds and needs level grounds to show her capabilities.  Dalit woman needs feeling of belonging-ness as per saying of Mata Savitribai Phule “  Till such time we don’t understand that we are children of only one Creator it will be difficult  to understand His grace.”
Words 2867 
                                                                                      Er. H. R. Phonsa,Jammu
Contact: - 09419134060 / Email:-

 Material has been drawn from the following sources:-
        1. The Laws Of Manu Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd New Delhi 1991
2         The Constitution Of India by PM Bakshi 1999.
3            Dalit Mahilayan by Dr.Manju Suman Samyak Prakashan New Delhi-63
4   Karant Jyoti Savitribai Phule by M.G.Mali( Publication Deptt.Ministry of Information and Brodcasting GOI.)
5          Dali Jatiyon Ka Dastavejby Dr.Mata Prashad Ex.Governor Urnachal Pradesh,Samyak Prakashan N.Delhi-63)
6          Jyotiba Phule by Durga Pradhad Shukal,NCERT.
7         .Devdasi,Sati Pratha Aur Kanya Hatya by Shitla Sahate and Atul K.Vishvas,Goutam Book Centre Delhi.
8. Dalit Movement In India and its Leaders by R.K.Ashirsagar ,M.D.Publication Pvt.Ltd New Delhi.

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