India’s ‘untouchable’ women &discrimination
6th Jan, 2023
Despite outlawing caste-based discrimination in 1950, Dalits still get discriminated against when applying for programs such as microloan schemes which are actually established to help them.
Challenges faced by Dalit Women:
- Plethora of issues: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.
- Exploitation by dominant castes
- Lack of justice
- Workplace violence
How caste plays its role in occupation?
- Caste is essentially the stratification of peopleinto a rigid occupational hierarchy.
- Dalits who are the last in the list, often called "untouchables" are excluded from all jobs except the worst paid and most degrading — on the pretext of maintaining the spiritual purity of those in higher castes.
An attempt to help
- In India, microloan programs have been embraced as a poverty-reduction policy.
- Microloans are offered by for-profit, not-for-profit and government-owned banks.
- The Reserve Bank of India regulates the sector and acts as a guarantor of microloans given by banks under national government-sponsored poverty alleviation schemes.
- The Reserve Bank of India underwrites incentives including interest rates about half that offered to other women.
What are the problem with microloans?
- Poor implementation of microfinance programs
- lack of outcomes for Dalit women entrepreneurs in India
- Discrimination at the branch level
- Being humiliated when applying for a microloan — of help being refused when filling in a form, of being told not to sit on the same chairs as other bank customers, and of their application being rejected for no good reason.
How caste certificates ‘too’ creates hurdle?
- To qualify for a program to assist Dalits, they had to prove they're a Dalit by supplying a government-issued caste certificate.
- But this certificate then became the means for them be identified as Dalits and discriminated against.
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.
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