The country which talks about knocking the threshold of developed world is still finding it tough to tackle some of its age-old ill-practices like untouchability.
In a survey conducted by Navsarjan Trust and the Robert F. Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human Rights, the practice of untouchability was found common in rural areas of Western India. The survey was carried out over three years in randomly selected 1,589 villages in the region.
The report brings to the fore that untouchability is practiced not only by caste Hindus but the relatively ‘upper’ sub-caste Dalits also discriminate against the ‘lower’ sub-caste Dalits.
The survey found that while 98 forms of untouchability was practised by caste Hindus against the Dalits, 99 forms of caste discrimination was found within the Dalit sub-castes.
The reports also pointed out the taboo of inter-caste marriage. It said inter-caste marriage was strictly prohibited in 98.4 per cent of the villages and such marriages within the Dalit sub-castes was found banned in 99.1 per cent of the villages. Any violation of the “rule” would invariably attract a violent reprimand against the defying couple, who were often forced to leave the village. Even in tea kiosks, cups and saucers were kept separately for the Dalits and such customers were required to clean their own utensils before putting the same back in the rack meant for the Dalits.
In schools, separate sitting arrangements were made for caste Hindus and Dalits for mid-day meal schemes. Dalit students were not served water in schools. They were expected to go home or carry their own water with them.