Social Issues

Dalits: In a state of unfreedom

Print edition : September 01, 2017

Jayamma, a Dalit woman garbage collector, in Bengaluru. A 2008 picture. Informal sectors such as ragpicking and garbage collection engage workers who are exclusively from the community of untouchables. One may consider their work environment-friendly and hence a service to society and even to the nation. But the very obnoxious nature of this work denies them the advantage of feeling dignified. Photo: K. Gopinathan

A video grab of Dalit youths being beaten for skinning a dead cow in Una in Gujarat in July 2016.

The aftermath of violence unleashed on Dalits in Natham Colony in Naikkan Kottai in Dharmapuri in Tamil Nadu in November 2012. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

In incidents of violence against Dalits, usually the targets are the symbols of cultural modernity such as pucca houses, vehicles, electronic gadgets, fashionable attire and even modern hairstyles. Here, at Natham colony in Dharmapuri. Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

1930, Kalaram temple, Nashik. The protest here by Dalits to allow them entry into the temple is a landmark in the history of Dalit movement in India. B.R. Ambedkar urged his people through the Marathi journal he started, "Bahishkrit Bharat" (The Excluded of India), to hold a non-violent agitation to secure the right of entry into the temple. The temple remained closed for about a year following agitations. Photo: The Hindu Archives

In the past 70 years of Independence, most Dalits have been continuously pushed into obnoxious spheres of work. The concept of freedom for them is where they can participate in a more creative, competitive and attractive sphere of decent opportunities.
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