Sociologist Satish Deshpande in his article (The Indian Express, 15th Mar 2021) walks us through the history of affirmative action in India and shows how after almost a century we have come back to where we started from – from the quest for social justice to a mere power sharing game. He further asks hard but important questions by reflecting on the recent developments that undermine reservations for the marginalised.
This article (The Guardian, 10th Mar 2021) explores a study commissioned by the Ministry of Social Justice (GoI) that recommends masking of surnames of the candidates appearing for the coveted UPSC examinations. The article also sheds light on the dismal representation of Dalits in upper echelons of bureaucracy and argues that by masking surnames during the interview process will give a fair chance for people from Dalit community in selection.
RTI data reveals that although some of the newer Indian Institutes of Management (IIMs) like Shillong have made some progress in hiring faculty from Scheduled Castes and Tribes, and Other Backward Classes over the recent years, these communities make up less than 10% of faculty at the older, more prestigious IIMs. Eg: IIM Nagpur does not have a single faculty member from any of the reserved categories.
Shreehari in an article details the need for having a reliable data on Dalit Christians and Muslims to overcome the century old discrimination and illogical separation from their Hindu Counterparts in recognising them as Scheduled Castes and Tribes. As agreed by Supreme court, Religion as a basis in identifying Scheduled Castes should be done away with. Change in Religion has not denounced discrimination. Adding to the woe, not recognising them as Scheduled Castes prevent them from availing benefits of Reserved Constituency, being covered under SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities act, etc.
Rahul Kumar, a student of the IIT Gandhinagar, in his article (The Print, 24th Mar 2021) brings to the fore, through data and anecdotes, the hegemonic upper-caste guild in India’s higher educational institutions.
Nutan, a Dalit transwoman, in her article (The Indian Express, 6th Oct 2019) shares her personal predicament of being ‘the twice untouchable’ – the Dalit and the transgender.
Social Activist KanchaIlaiah Shepherd in his article (The Wire, 27th Mar 2021) gives a powerful rejoinder to the Supreme Court bench’s question ‘for how many generations will reservations continue?’.
Goutham Raj Konda, an Urban Policy researcher at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, narrates the story of his Dalit friends who early on in their life had given-up education to shoulder family responsibility. He further argues that Dalit stories deserve to be told because they are testimony to India’s ‘cate and class nexuses’.
Breaking off the stereotype that society imagines Dalit women as objects of pity, subjects of study, Paikabai Khobragade was class apart to recreate her destiny. Her life, commencing in the 1800s, is a journey of ethereal strength and extraordinary grit. Being a widow, she managed to be a business woman managing vast track of cultivated land, a bullock cart business and focused sharply on her children’s education and entrepreneurship skills. Khobragade was an individual who was replete with business acumen, bravery, intelligence, bold assertions, care for the family and community, and respect for the self. As described by Ankita Apoorva in her article, Paikabai Khobragade’s life is an anti-caste documentation, discovery and literature on an independent path, which changes the dominant-caste narratives of Dalits. Read more on Paikabai and her endurable journey here.
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