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You Are Fooling Yourself If You Think ‘Caste Prejudices’ Exist No More As We Have Developed As A Society

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By Krishna Pathak:

After 65 years of independence, the story of India is not all hope and glitter. In its wider dark spaces, which threaten to get bigger and darker, discrimination and inequity fester. Among its worst sufferer are children, women and families who continue to pay for a system they neither molded nor understand. Yes, I’m talking about the social discrimination based on the outlawed caste system which is still very much intact.

Caste

An 11 year old Dalit boy from Madurai district of Tamil Nadu was humiliated and was forced to carry his sandals on his head as punishment (source: Frontline). His crime? Wearing footwear in the caste-Hindu area, a place where footwear is considered a status symbol rather than protective gear! The continuous effect of such practices and abuse of Dalit children is that they are kept powerless, separate and unequal.

This is not from the 18th century, I’m talking about the present day. The epistemic semantic mechanism that keeps the powerless in their place has never gone out of fashion. The stark reality is that our country regrettably shines out with the evil of intolerance and caste discrimination prevalent in its myriad forms. The perception of the dominant group, the so called upper castes, is bestowed by the Varna system- the scriptural legitimacy of caste system on Indian society and every time a feud occurs they have the backup support from this Varna system to legitimize their pseudo beliefs about economic and social form of caste based discrimination.

The past and present of India has been represented largely by the casteist mindset. This is a fact and this is the problem! Social problems like this are begging for attention. The country needs a social revolution. I believe that if we are truly committed to an equitable society that stands for social justice, we have no choice but to strive and struggle for ending caste. It has to be a broad movement not only for Dalits but for all those committed to basic human rights and dignity and principles of justice, equality, liberty and fraternity. It has to be a movement against the religious rituals and holy texts which keep them subjugated for centuries or enslaved their minds. Together, we must unite to force the Indian government to rise above an entrenched caste mentality and to properly enforce its laws, implement its politics and to fulfill its responsibility to protect the basic human rights of all its citizens.

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  1. kebhari

    Very interesting & thoughtful initiative! Lovely article! Thanks for sharing:)

  2. vijay anand

    Obviously the caste system is not a actual need for an Indian…even I too oppose it and it must be as such done by each and every Indian not only today or tomorrow but also each and phase of life..we should motivate our government to step against this system and the movement should not be started as we but it should be as “I” from each Indian

  3. Saumya Sahni

    Even in the 21st Century, caste dominates our choices. We choose those leaders who belong to our caste. Our parents decide our future spouses on the basis of caste. Inter-caste marriages still do not go down very well with many families. It is still difficult for a Muslim to survive in India without prejudices. Unfortunately, caste is a deep-rooted reality and we will definitely be fooling ourselves if we continue to live in a dreamland which holds that ‘all Indians are my brothers and sisters’. No, that is not the case. It is a Muslim/Sikh/Christian/Hindu first and an Indian later. Obviously, the reality would have been happier if it would have been an Indian first.

  4. Diksha

    We must strive hard to think practically when it comes to caste. I feel this system emerged out of classification of early people on basis of their occupation. The people doing lower jobs like sweeping streets or garbage collectors were considered low caste. While those educated were considered high class. But nowadays we nomore need such classification. Today we leave in a free country where each and everybody has right to education. It is the need of modern India to put an end to this so called “caste” system. It is high time we highly modernized youth leave our orthodox thoughts n break all caste barriers. India without such caste discrimination will truly be heaven!!

  5. Aditi Thakker

    Although discrimination on the basis of caste has been outlawed in India, the fact that affirmative action still exists is going to ensure that this caste system is not only going to prevail but also flourish. The people at the bottom of this caste pyramid are the real voters in our elections. To retain this vote bank, the politicians referring to these people will make sure that their troubles live on, that they feel like animals and that a little progress comes at the cost of a lot of lives.

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

Saurabh has been associated with YKA as a user and has consistently been writing on the issue MHM and its intersectionality with other issues in the society. Now as an MHM Fellow with YKA, he’s launched the Right to Period campaign, which aims to ensure proper execution of MHM guidelines in Delhi’s schools.

The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

Read more about his campaign.

Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

Read more about her campaign.

MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

Find out more about the campaign here.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
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