Saturday, August 18, 2007

Dalits in India - 2

Bhupinder Singh points us to Harsh Mander's article about a recent report on the status of Dalits in India. Here's what he says about Dalit children:

Of the many forms of untouchability that persist in modern India, unarguably the most unconscionable is the wide prevalence of discrimination against dalit children within schools. Children in rural India, and even parts of the cities, learn early the rules of caste, which survive unremittingly through their lifetimes, even as their country races into the 21st century. A survey of practices of untouchability undertaken in 565 villages in 11 major states of India reveals shockingly that in as many as 38 per cent government schools, dalit children are made to sit separately while eating. In 20 per cent schools, dalit children are not even permitted to drink water from the same source.

India Together has this article by Puja Awasthi on how Dalit children are treated in many UP schools:

Sanjeev Kumar, a class four student in a government run primary school of village Bhagwanpura of Jalaun district says his teacher does not permit him to sit on the mat. "The Thakurs and Brahmin students in my class ask me to keep away from the mat. My teacher asks me to sit on the ground. In school during mid day meal (MDM), we are forcibly seated very far and in the last. The children from the general castes don't like to play with us. If I go to the teachers for checking the home work or class work, they see it without touching it." Kumar is lucky his teachers do not thrash him.

In 2006, the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to education, Vernor Munoz, noted: "Teachers have been known to declare that Dalit pupils cannot learn unless they are beaten."