Discrimination Against Marginalized Community (With Special Reference to Muslim and Dalits) Submitted by: Saiyad Md Shahnawaz Research Scholar Academy of International Studies Jamia Millia Islamia New Delhi-110025 Research Problem (Discrimination Against Muslims and Dalits in India) Introduction The constitution of India not only guarantees basic human rights as fundamental rights but also prohibits all kind of discriminatory practices, in any forms. There are progressive laws and human right redress mechanisms and institution, but these are not effectively implemented.
The mindset of the supporters of discriminatory practices has yet to be changed. Laws are blatantly violated; perpetrators of crimes against Muslims and Dalits are often hand in glove with agents of the state. All of this constitutes a major challenge to India’s claims of being a democracy. In the matter of social relationships, discrimination against Muslims and Dalits takes the form of barriers against access to justice, eating, drinking, worshiping, and having access to common properties. It puts a ban on all common cycles of participation.
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In the use of public facilities, the sprit of discrimination manifests itself in the exclusion of the Muslims and Dalits from schools, wells, temples, means of conveyance and access to land, water and other livelihood resources. Public administration is also deeply drenched in the sprit of discrimination against Muslims. It has affected law courts, government department, banks and particularly the police. Discrimination against Muslims in the matter of securing land, credit, job etc. in the most rampant form. Many members of the Muslim minority in India feel marginalized within the nation’s secular institutions.
They believe that while many people treat western secular values as universally valid, in actuality, they are not. For instance, many individuals and NGOs alike advocate for all citizens to have access to education. What these advocates may fail to recognize, however, is that the right to education means each individual’s right to have access to the public schools as defined and organized by the state, and as run by the dominant group. It does not necessarily mean the right of a group of individuals with some shared characteristics to institutionalize their own type of education. Hypothesis
I. The crisis faced by Dalits and Muslims is prevalent because of the biases and mindset of majority of the Indian people. II. Some social and religious quarters have created some beliefs and norms quiet adverse to the equitable position of marginalized people which is very difficult to crack. III. Modernization forces are not able to advance movement to overtake the traditions and to prevent degradation of pluralistic and equity based values. IV. There is lack of experience and mechanism in dealing with the problem of discrimination against marginalized people with new dimension.
Objectives and Scope of the Study The proposed research study will try to achieve the following objectives and will putt forward and agenda for academicians, policy makers and highest legislative establishment in corporate thereof in their pursuit for making available equality and justice to the children of lesser Gods,i. e Dalits and Muslims in India. The research will provide an overview of the structures and forms of discrimination and denial that Muslims and Dalits in India face, which, in turn, seriously challenge India’s democratic credentials. India has a population of 1210. million people (2011 census) in which about 400 million people are Muslims and Dalits who, in one form or the other, are vulnerable to discrimination. The research will look at the need of human rights groups in India today to seek to create democratic space for marginalized groups like Muslims and Dalits and access democratic institutions for their empowerment. The limits of the liberal democracy as far as the Muslims and Dalits are concerned will be highlighted in the research, which, in addition, will look at measures suggested by for addressing these limits.
Democracy is not all about regular elections. It also includes pluralism, inclusion, rule of law, and protection of religious minorities and other marginalized groups. This indicates that seriously addressing the plight of the Dalits (as well as other marginalized communities in India) requires us to recognize the constraints of liberal democracy and make group economic, political and social rights an integral part of a new form of democracy suited to the particular context in which these marginalized communities find themselves placed. Research Design
This research work will be based on both quantitative and qualitative methodologies and will be relied on primary and secondary sources. Primary sources include- 1. Statutes and laws 2. Judicial pronouncements 3. Report Secondary sources include- 1. Official documents 2. Published and unpublished works Description about the Research Problem (Human Right and Dalits in the Caste System) The caste system is the social organization of Hindus. However the residual consequences of the caste system are also found in the communities that have converted to other religion like Budhism, Sikhism, Christianity and Islam from Hinduism.
As a system of social, economic and religious governance, the caste system is not founded on the principles of equality, liberty (or freedom) or fraternity but on the principles of inequality in every sphere of life. Historically, the caste system has formed the social and economic framework for the life of the people in India. In its essential form, caste as the system of social and economic governance is based on principles and customary rules that involve the division of people into social group (caste) where assignments of rights are determined by birth are fixed and hereditary.
The assignment of basic right among various castes is unequal and hierarchical, with those at the top enjoying most rights coupled with least duties and those at the bottom performing most duties coupled with no right. In this framework, the concept of human rights under the Hindu social system has a specific meaning. Unlike other human societies, the Hindu social order in its classical form does not recognize the individual and his/her distinctiveness as the center of the social purpose. The unit of the Hindu society is not the individual.
Even the family is not regarded as a unit of society except for the purposes of marriage and inheritance. The primary unit of society is caste. There is no room for individual merit and consideration of individual justice. Any right that an individual has is not due to his/her personally: it is owing to being born in a particular caste. Similarly, if an individual suffers from lack of right, it is not because he/she deserves it by their merit or conduct. The unequal and hierarchical assignment of rights under caste system has its basis on the specific notion of “Human-Hood” which is different and unique.
In this particular order of hierarchy, castes are placed at the top. The ‘upper castes’ are given all privilege and right, as they are considered to be “superior social being” worthy of. Dalits being considered at the bottom are denied all rights because they are treated as “sub-human beings or lesser human beings” and unworthy of any right. As inferior social beings, untouchables are not entitled to any individual right i. e. civic, religious, political or economic. In addition, they are considered to be impure and polluting and therefore are physically and socially isolated and excluded from the rest of the Hindu society.
Isolation and exclusion of untouchables is a unique feature of the Hindu social order. Denial of free political participation:- The granting of reservation to Dalits within the new Panchayats (village level local bodies) established by the 73rd constitutional amendment in 1993 is one of the most significant changes introduced in recent decades. Apart from seats for Dalits in every Panchayat based on their population, the post of Sarpanch (Village head) together with 1/3 of the seats for Dalits women have been reserved.
These provisions have the potential of throwing up a new leadership among Dalits who can play a seminal role in participation and decision-making in the new Panchayats. Untouchability continues to be practiced in not allowing elected Dalits representative to sit on the allocated seats and chairs, not eating together, not accepting offer of drink and food when the non-Dalit representatives visit the homes of Dalits members, ill-treatment and lack of respect by the Panchayat functionaries, not allocating work etc.
In many cases the legal provisions are used to force the Dalit Sarpanch to resign in a reserved constituency, making way for the non-Dalit Deputy Sarpanch to take power and authority. Often, the corrupt members and officials, trap the Dalit members so that they become accountable for any misappropriation or embezzlement. Land Right:- Dalits and Muslims land right are often denied; it is directly linked to caste system, discrimination based on religion and its pernicious influence resulting into gross human right violation of worst kind in multiple forms.
There is also a nexus between being lower caste and landless. The implementation of land reform law has been subverted by the absence of political will and bureaucratic commitment, loopholes in the laws, tremendous manipulative power of the landed classes, lack of organization among the poor and excessive interference of courts. Right to Education-Muslim and Dalit children:- The enrolment of Muslim and Dalit children has increased over the years, revealing the increased interest in education and mobility. But the real problem is an alarming drop out rate among these students.
In many habitations, the school is situated in localities inhabited by dominant Hindu castes that are hostile to students belonging to lower castes and minority groups. Teachers have been found to maintain discriminatory attitudes and practices that underlie caste relations in society. B. K. Anitha’s study in Karnataka revealed that Dalit pupils were called ‘kadu-jana'(forest people)who would not learn without being beaten. The discriminatory pattern and the insensitive curriculum forces Dalit children to drop out. Denial of Basic Health Service:-
The National Health Survey (NFHS)-a government of India agency data for 1998-99 revealed wide gap between Muslims, Dalits and others. The infant (83) and child mortality (39) among the Dalits is higher than others, 61 and 22 respectively. In 1998-99 at least 56% of Dalit women suffered from the anemia. More than 70% women’s delivery took place at home and only one-fifth took place in institution. More than three-fourths of SC children are anemic, one-fifth to one-third suffered from fever, and another one-forth from ARI and diarrhea. More than 50% of children from SC communities suffer from malnutrition.
High morbidity and child mortality among Dalits is closely linked with poverty, low educational status and also discrimination in access to health services. Discrimination in Food Security Programs:- The right to food is considered a fundamental human right under the Indian Constitution and International human instrument. But when it comes to the Muslim and Dalit children, it is severely violated. Considering high drop out rate in primary education the Supreme Court of India directed the Union government to provide Mid Day Meals so students may be retained and the right to education for all can be realized.
In some cases where a Muslim or Dalit cook has been hired, the so called upper caste parents than begin sending their children to school with lunches packed at home, or require their children to come home for launch, in any case forbidding their children to eat food prepared by the Muslim or Dalit cook. In the third stage, dominant caste parent or community members pressure the local administration to dismiss the Muslim or Dalit cook, on any pretext, and hire a dominant caste cook instead.
Economic Exclusion and Discrimination:- The economic exclusion of Muslim and Dalits is through pricing in sale, purchase and hiring activities, ranging from raw materials to finished goods, The nature and forms of land market discrimination is evident in the form of denial in sale purchase of land for agriculture and non agricultural use, which include land for agricultural production, business location and residential housing. Like other sectors there is a rampant discrimination against Muslims and Dalits in the labor market.
The religion and Caste-based labor market discrimination is conceived in the form of exclusion of Muslims and Dalits from employment by Hindu ‘higher caste’. Barely four to six months after the landmark employment guarantee scheme, a nationwide study revealed that only 30% of those registering for the scheme have received job cards. Discrimination on the basis of caste, gender, disability and a general lack of awareness are hampering the implementation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS), 11-state study by the civil society organization Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) has shown.
A field survey by PRIA and its partner organization in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Haryana, Himachal Pradesh, Gujarat, jharkhand, Kerela, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Uttaranchal revealed that while there was large-scale registration for jobs, less than 30% got the crucial job cards. Another major problem was low public awareness of the scheme. The survey also found village heads guilty of misusing their power, with people with ties to the sarpanch (village headman), panchayats secretary and officials appearing to have benefit more than villagers. No Serious Efforts for Corporate Social Responsibility:-
Unfortunately, social justice or “compensatory discrimination” programs in India have gotten stereotyped around the theme of “reservation” in the public sector. Among these two are important: first those social justice programs are more or equivalent to reservation and that reservation is limited to employment in the public sector as well as seats in educational institutions. Second, even more debilitating, is the pervasive idea that reservation is in some way at odds with “merit” that we have to give up on or “relax” certain standards of merit in order to do social justice for Dalit community.
In the matter of Muslim in India they suffer worst. They do not have any reservation in jobs although they are least represented community in corporate sector. Right to Housing versus Residential Segregation:- Muslims and Dalits are being discriminated against in the housing market. It is mainly related to the restrictions faced by Muslims and Dalits in purchasing land for the constr residential house in predominantly high caste locality, in taking house on rent in so called Hindu high caste locality and in self restrictions imposed by high castes, buying land in the low caste locality for construction of residential houses.
Discriminatory Restrictions on Public Behavior:- As has been amply demonstrated by scholars, untouchability at not a trait that defines particular people, but a relationship between people. One of the distinguishing features of this relationship is that it requires the continual reproduction of public signs proclaiming the ‘inferiority’ of those marked as ‘untouchables’ relative to the rest of society. Thus, the institution of untouchability is partly sustained through the imposition of iscriminatory sanctions on behavior in public-sanctions which make it incumbent on Muslims and Dalits to behave in ways that announce their low status, and as a corollary, underline the ‘superior’ status of the upper castes. Hindu ‘ Upper caste’ society is extremely sensitive to violations of this public visible code, and transgression immediately invites ret retribution, ban on marriage processions on public roads. Accountability of State Vis a Vis State Impunity:-
There is a strong comfort level in both society and the state crimes against Muslims and Dalits do not matter and need not be punished. This attitude of impunity is rooted in the social and cultural values and though the constitution has made a very conscious change, the mindset in society has not changed. Officials who also are part of and sympathize with the social values do not see the need for strict implementation. Protecting the rights of marginalized and vulnerable persons is probably the most overlooked and disregarded area of human right in India.
Muslims and Dalits are generally marginalized by society, making them easy to ignore. A rights based approach requires development action from the international community and national governments to correct injustice and protect human right. Cultural Alienation:- The dominant cultural values and practices have played a major role in not only subjugating Muslims and Dalits but in concurrently alienating Muslims and Dalits from the so-called mainstream of a civilized socio, cultural, economic and political set up.
The alienation has been to such an extent that even granting them human-hood so as to enjoy certain rights has been out rightly denied. The principles of equal justice would have struck a fatal blow to the established discriminatory practices towards the Muslim and Dalits but the established Caste/religion- based discriminatory order still continue to operate in various ways. To enunciate the principle of justice is one thing, and to make it effective is another. It is true that the Constitution of
India prohibits any forms of discrimination and India has very progressive laws at times are not used by the state agencies. The mindset of the supporters of discriminatory practices has yet to changes. Law are blatantly violated ; Perpetrators of crimes against Muslim and Dalits often hand in glove with duty-bearers resulting in great impunity. There is a pattern of institutional discrimination in the implementation of different welfare schemes meant for Dalits and other marginalized and excluded communities.
There is gross under allotment of funds for Muslims and Dalits in the Union Budget. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 found similar provisions in the Indian Constitution. But, as matter of fact, the socio-economic base of the India Political system has acted as a great barrier of establishment of an egalitarian society. Despite the constitutional mandate for uplift and against exploitation, Muslims and Dalits are still at the receiving end and also have been the victims of worst kind of crime against humanity.
The noble ideas in the form of rules and regulations for providing a better deal to the unfortunate social out-castes have remained only on paper. Crime against Muslim and Dalits does not seem to disturb the nation’s conscience. Occasionally, sympathies to come at times but have not been able to overpower the monster which strikes at its will at regular interval against Muslims and Dalits in various forms. To quote Dr B. R. Ambedkar, in the Indian village republic there is no place for democracy, equality, liberty and fraternity.
In fact the Indian village is a negation of republic. The republic is an empire of the Hindus over the untouchables. The untouchables have no rights because they are outside the village republic. For them there is no equal right and justice. The Choice of Topic Having been a student of political science, I have great interest in issues related to marginalized communities. Looking from that perspective, discrimination against the marginalized communities is the foremost problem for India. This has been the biggest challenge to modernization of the ountry resulting in the gray areas, silent spaces and wants in achieving equality in a land of hierarchy. Therefore, this, topic was selected for proposed research synopsis. The Need for Study In view of the above description of realities, there is a need for having a serious study of the whole scenario, to identify the main issues and find out solutions to the problems. There are certain studies on Dalit scenario and separately on Muslims position but there is a need of a comparative view of the position.
Bibliography B. R. Ambedkar, “Symbols of Hinduism”, Writings and Speeches, Vol. 3, Education Department, Government of Maharashtra, Bombay, 1987. B. R. Ambedkar, “the House the Hindus Have Built”, Writings and Speeches,Vol. 5, Education Department. B. K. Anitha, Village, Caste and Education, Rawat Publications, Jaipur, 2000. Chandhoke, Neera, Beyond Secularism, New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1999. Ghanshayam Shah et. al (Ed. ), Untouchability in Rural India, Sage Publications, New Delhi, 2006.