India recently celebrated it’s 74th Independence Day, and we are only one year short of India at 75. But, the way various kinds of discrimination that still persist in our society doesn’t bode well for the ‘Mother India’ that our freedom fighters had dreamt of. Many of them sacrificed their lives without thinking at once about themselves and their dear ones. They went through severe repression at the hands of the colonial regime.
Several of them, like Bhagat Singh, B.R. Ambedkar, Mahatma Gandhi, dreamt for India to be an egalitarian society, free from any type of discrimination. But, caste-based discrimination is the most dangerous social evil which divides society even today. Dr Ambedkar, as the chairman of the drafting committee, took several measures which intended to discard very foundation of caste-based discrimination because, from the very outset of his life, he had experienced severe caste-based discrimination. We know how his class teacher used to discriminate against him by making him sit out of the classroom or very far from other students.
Today, the Constitution has several dedicated articles which criminalise and nullify caste-based discrimination, namely Articles 14, 17, and 21, i.e right to equality, the abolition of untouchability, and right to live with human dignity. But, despite these and several other measures, historically marginalised castes, be it Dalit or other backward castes, continue to face severe caste-based discrimination in every field of their lives.
Examples of caste-based discrimination are many, but most common are exclusion from social functions, inability to make use of community benefits, classroom discrimination by teachers and peers to name a few. So, as we head towards India at 75, we as a society have to take several practical steps that would produce results on the ground. These steps include community participation, making our children aware because only Constitutional provisions and statutes are not enough to eradicate these deep-rooted ills.