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India’s ‘untouchable’ women face discrimination even in schemes meant to help them

  • Published
    30th Dec, 2022

Despite outlawing caste-based discrimination in 1950, Dalits still get discriminated against when applying for programs established to help them.

Challenges faced by Dalit Women

  • Failure of policies: Dalit women continue to suffer from a high degree of poverty, gender discrimination, caste discrimination, and socioeconomic deprivation.
  • Violence: Girls face violence at a younger age and at a higher rate than women of other castes.
  • Caste System
  • Exploitation by dominant castes
  • Cases are withdrawn and lack of justice
  • Workplace violence

Rigid Occupational Hierarchy

  • Caste is essentially the stratification of people into a rigid occupational hierarchy.
  • The origins of India’s caste system go back thousands of years.
  • It is deeply entwined with Hinduism.

Problem with microloans

  • A microloan from a government bank:
    • It was pioneered by economist Muhammad Yunus and the Grameen Bank in Bangladesh in the 1970s.
    • In India, it is backed by the Reserve Bank of India.
    • It is offered to people who lack the collateral that institutional lenders usually require.
  • Role of RBI in Microloans:

Unsung Dalit women heroes

  • Sabari from the Ramayana: example of acceptance, selflessness, and unconditional love
  • Sant Nirmala and Soyarabai: From Mahar caste, questioning Hindu orthodoxy.
  • Naegeli: Fought against the cruel “breast tax” system.
  • Kuyili: She commanded the army of Velu Nachiyar.
  • Queen of Sivaganga in Tamil Nadu: Dalit woman who fought against the British around 1780.
  • Jhalkaribai: Most trusted companion and advisor of Rani Laxmibai of Jhansi.
  • Uda Devil: formed a battalion consisting of Dalit women under the leadership of Begum Hazrat Mahal.
  • Savitribai Phule: A pioneer in education for Dalits
  • Moovalur Ramamirtham Ammaiyar fought against the exploitative Devadasi system.
  • Dakshayani Velayudhan: first and only Dalit woman to be elected to the constituent assembly in 1946.
    • Regulating the sector
    • Guarantor of microloans given by banks
  • Provision for Dalit women: The Reserve Bank of India underwrites incentives including interest rates about half that offered to other women.
  • Poor Implementation: 66 per cent of rejected applications were from Dalit women.
  • Discrimination at the branch level.

The problem faced while issuing Caste certificates

  • To qualify for a program to assist Dalits, they had to prove they were Dalits by supplying a government-issued caste certificate.
  • But this certificate then became the means for them to be identified as Dalits and discriminated against.

Initiatives Taken to Promote Transformation

  • Pradhan Mantri Kaushal Vikas Yojana (PMKVY)
  • Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood (SANKALP) Scheme
  • Stand Up India Scheme
  • Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana
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