‘We Are Touchable, Don’t Drag Us To Hell’: Story Of 21st-Century Dalits

Posted by Sujata Yadav in Caste, Human Rights, Society
December 15, 2017

“Untouchability”. Many of us would say it is a stigma of the past. It’s hard to believe that it still exists in a modern and industrialized India, but unfortunately, it does.

But the good thing is that we have found a great solution to this problem, which is, “Do not talk about it“. Yes, you can beat a poor woman, rape her, and then by declaring her a witch, put her to death. It just won’t end here. Social boycott of the family is the next step by the whole village or community, so that they are not able to raise their voice.

This poor woman can be a 60-year-old Dalit woman lynched in Agra after being accused of cutting off hair, or an 85-year-old-woman in Rajasthan being stripped and tortured for using ‘black magic’ on a girl from a Jat family.

Well, the stories of such women could go on. But what is important here is the question – why is this still happening?

In the 21st century, is it possible that a poor woman, who can’t even afford her three meals a day, can do black magic on rich and high-class people? And if they are so good at this black magic, why can’t they get a good home for themselves through this magic? Why stay in poverty and get beaten up?

The truth is that poor Dalits are still being humiliated. However, now they no longer carry a broom tied to their waist to clean the land on which their foot lies. Neither do they carry a pot around their neck for carrying their spit with them, so that their saliva doesn’t infect the higher classes.

But yes, they could be beaten up. Like if a young Dalit carries a Rajput-style moustache. Rajputs apparently have a right to do this because their honour and dignity has been offended by a moustache. In case you do not believe me that such an incident can happen in 2017, you can always google it.

Some people might say that these incidents are few in number, and I am just making it a Dalit issue. Then, let me tell you that discrimination against Dalits is not a thing of the past. According to National Crime Records Bureau, a crime is committed against a Dalit by a non-Dalit every 16 minutes. Two other key reports, “Justice Under Trial” and “Claiming Justice”, from 2014, say that the conviction rate is only 2% in cases where rape victims are Dalits whereas the national conviction rate for rape is 25%. According to UNICEF, 51% Dalit children drop out of elementary school as opposed to 37% children from non-Dalit and non-Adivasi communities.

So, now we can clearly say that discrimination and untouchability are not going extinct anytime soon. We have always seen Dr BR Ambedkar holding our constitution in his statues. We honour him and respect him for giving our country its constitution. But now is the time to understand him and the ideas for which he really stood his whole life. It is time to understand why he said that India needs a social revolution more than a political one. A social revolution which is still waiting to happen.