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About the Author

Ladislav Kudlacek
Education project manager (Czech Republic)

Political Scientist and Economist. I worked for human rights and humanitarian NGO in India and for international NGO People in Need based in the Czech Republic as a Programme Manager for Afghanistan. In present time I work as an Education Manager. I studied Economics in Tomas Bata University and Political Science in Masaryk University in the Czech Republic and in the University of Delhi in India and Humanitarian and International Law in Helsinki University in Finland.

Post

Escape from social marginalisation

Published 14th July 2010 - 5 comments - 2553 views -

Escape from social marginalisation

Discrimination of India's lowest Hindu castes is prohibited by law. The Caste System has been illegal in India for more than sixty years but it continues to shape people’s lives. It is not easy to speak about this law with the 160 million of the Untouchable, who face unbearable treatment if they forget where “their place” is. They cannot leave their social background and shift to a higher caste. Still the Indian government tries to help them by using positive discrimination. Thus to accept a reserved place in state administration and universities is a one way to escape social frustration. That many of the Untouchable have been leaving their rigid social structure by converting to Islam, Buddhism, or Christianity is the second one. In any case, there are many positives as well as negatives in life which these conversions bring.

Religion changing social background

A change of religion does not simply provide the Untouchable with better life standards. It is most of all a step to the life where the community regards them as human beings. They gain the chance to reach a new open social system of their new religion which provides them with education, social background and therefore also the chance for their children to lead a normal life – which the untouchable do not have. Considering for example the education, state schools, which are the only schools accessible to them, do not give the same quality of education as, for instance, prestigious Christian schools do at all.

Violence preserves fear

However, the new social status does not guarantee peaceful life. The growing Indian (Hindu) nationalism has found one of its targets of aggression in small religious communities. Especially the groups which are close to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (which is similar to the ideology of the European neo-Nazi groups but with religious bias) attack these communities and often terrorise them. It was apparently manifested in 2007-2008 in Orissa, Gujarat and other localities where especially Muslims and Christians went through bloody attacks. These events brought narrower cooperation between members of these communities. The motives for these attacks were many times in the conversions to Islam or Christianity.

Indian government tries to protect these communities and to minimize these attacks but it’s sad to say that regional leaders often have various interests and therefore frequently support the violence. Consequently, it brings them both political and economic profit.

The various religious communities all around India are trying to help each other find new background for the victims of the violent breaking of Indian law. Happily, one community helping another one is a strong positive heritage of Indian culture. Unfortunately, the practice is also the fact that the bigger Hindu communities dislike the smaller (Muslim, Christian etc.) minority ones.


Category: Equality | Tags:


Comments

  • Liisa Leeve on 14th July 2010:

    It’s quite sad that people have to “shop” for the right religion to gain social standing. But then again religious discrimination (and violence) happens everywhere in the world.


  • Andrea Arzaba on 14th July 2010:

    A very interesting post, I always wanted to know what is happening with those casts at the moment. So If religion might be their way out of this marginalization…then govenrment should do something about stopping this rebelions!


  • Luan Galani on 15th July 2010:

    Gripping post! As Andrea, I’ve always wanted to better know what is happening with those casts. I think that not only the government has to act, but people have to learn how to practise tolerance.

    @Liisa, it is lamentable fact, indeed. However, I have to disagree with you over this. In comparison to the rest of the world, religious descrimination does not happen in Brazil. All believes go on very well,  without any sort of prejudice or attacks.

    Since my childhood, I’ve been brought up with Jews, Arabs, Catholics and many others. For us, it is not a problem, as I’ve highlighted in my first post in this project. You know, some days ago I’ve been to Curitiba’s Mosque and there I met a Spanish researcher who told me that that very same Mosque is the only one in the world where Shiites and the Sunni branch do not fight. They live all peacefully. Why? Well, unlike many parts of the world, Brazilian culture makes difference in this case. We learn tolerance. Soon, I will post something on this. Sorry for my fierce enthusiasm wink


  • Hieke van der Vaart on 28th July 2010:

    Another positive story about the emancipation of the “untouchables”, that does not involve religion:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/the-rise-of-dalit-lit-marks-a-new-chapter-for-indias-untouchables-2014053.html


  • Luan Galani on 28th July 2010:

    Thanks for sharing this, Hieke.


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