Who are Dalits and Why Do They Continue to Face Oppression?

The Dalit community in India is a marginalized group that has faced centuries of discrimination and oppression. Dalits, also known as “untouchables,” make up approximately 16.6% of India’s population and are considered the lower rung of the Hindu caste system. Despite India’s constitution officially abolishing the caste system and promoting equality, Dalits still face numerous social, economic, and political challenges that prevent them from being seen as equal members of society. To put it into context, the caste system is much bigger than untouchability.

One of the main reasons for the oppression of the Dalit community is the persistence of the caste system in Indian society. Although “officially” abolished the caste system in 1950, it continues to influence how people interact with one another and is perpetuated through cultural norms, religious practices, and social structures. This can sometimes result in Dalits being relegated to the menial and dehumanizing occupations. They are often denied education, employment opportunities, and essential resources such as water and land.

Another reason for the oppression of the Dalit community is the lack of political representation and power. Despite being a significant portion of the population, Dalits are underrepresented in government positions and are often excluded from decision-making processes that affect their lives. This lack of representation exacerbates their marginalization and reinforces their status as second-class citizens.

In addition to the above factors, Dalits also face frequent acts of violence and discrimination, often with impunity. BBC cited that Dalit women are the most oppressed in the world. This includes physical violence, sexual assault, and access to resources and opportunities discrimination. This perpetuates a cycle of poverty and marginalization, as Dalits cannot access the resources and opportunities they need to improve their lives. Despite these challenges, there have been efforts to empower the Dalit community and address their oppression. One such effort is the reservation system, which provides reserved seats in educational institutions and government jobs for Dalits. While this has been instrumental in increasing access to education and employment for Dalits, it is still not enough to fully address the root causes of their oppression.

In conclusion, the oppression of the Dalit community in India is a complex and deeply ingrained issue that has its roots in the caste system and a lack of political representation and power. While efforts have been made to address this issue, there is still much work to be done to ensure that Dalits are treated as equal members of society and can access the resources and opportunities they need to improve their lives.

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