IRBF

By Oxfam India
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PracticeDalits & Tribal

Caste Discrimination

Violence against Dalits has been on the rise in India..

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Caste Discrimination
Caste Discrimination

Caste problem is prevalent in urban India as well as rural. Despite several arguments insisting that caste is either dead or dying, as forces of urbanisation, globalisation and modernisation are sweeping away antiquated social distinctions, and fostering a climate of meritocracy, which recognises and rewards individual merit or ability on a level playing field.

The identity problem is such that it often leads to cases of violence against the Dalits (the “lower” laste) . A 2016 report of the National Crimes Record Bureau (NCRB) which, for the first time, has released separate figures for 19 metropolitan cities on crimes against Scheduled Castes and Tribes (SC/ST) provides telling data on the matter. It provides data for three years (2014-2016) for these 19 cities. These are large cities, with populations of over 20 lakhs (two million), and if it were at all possible for caste to be anonymous, it would be in cities such as these. To clarify, the crimes against SC/ST are those registered under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act (PoA Act). The original Act was passed in 1989, and was amended in 2015 to expand the scope of offences committed against Dalits and Adivasis specifically targeting their caste or tribal background.]

Violence against Dalits has been on the rise in India. They have historically been discriminated and denied access by other castes by treating them as untouchables. After Muslims, Dalits have been the biggest targets of cow protection vigilantes in India lately.

In 2016, seven members of a Dalit family were stripped and publicly flogged in Gujarat by cow protection vigilantes. At least six protesting Dalits were shot dead by police in 2018 across north Indian states of Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. They were protesting the dilution by the Indian Supreme Court of an act of the parliament that protected dalits from caste atrocities.

Indian companies too add to caste based discrimination at various levels. Companies have a responsibility to not discriminate against the scheduled caste and scheduled tribes as laid down in the National Voluntary Guidelines.

Relevant Laws/ Acts: The Scheduled Caste and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989