Major reasons behind miserable conditions of Scheduled Castes
While modern Indian law has officially abolished the caste hierarchy, untouchability is in many ways still a practice.
In most villages in Rajasthan Dalits are not allowed to take water from the public well or to enter the temple.
Dalit movement, like identity movements across the world, has really narrowed its focus to forms of oppressions.
Most visible Dalit movements have been around issues like reservations and discrimination in colleges, and these are issues that affect only a small proportion of the Dalit population.
Today Dalits are perceived as a threat to the established social, economic and political position of the upper caste. Crimes are a way to assert the upper caste superiority.
Stasis in farm income over the past few years caused disquiet among predominantly agrarian middle caste groups, who perceive their dominance in the countryside to be weakening.
The growing scramble for Dalit votes by different political actors has only added a fresh twist to a conflict that has been simmering for some time.
Rising living standards of Dalits appears to have led to a backlash from historically privileged communities.
In a study by Delhi School of Economics ,an increase in the consumption expenditure ratio of SCs/STs to that of upper castes is associated with an increase in crimes committed by the latter against the former
Rising income and growing educational achievements may have led many Dalits to challenge caste barriers, causing resentment among upper caste groups, leading to a backlash.
There is also a possibility of the rise due to high registration and recognition of such crimes.
Half of all atrocities committed against Dalits are related to land disputes.
In public schools, Dalits are not allowed to serve meals to superior castes; they often have to sit outside the classroom; and are made to clean the toilets.
Even in universities most of the faculty vacancies reserved for them are lying vacant and students are often discriminated.
The recent incidents of suicides of Rohith Vemula and Payal Tadvi substantiate the above claims of discrimination against Dalit students.
Girls face violence at a younger age and at a higher rate than women of other castes. According to the National Family Health Survey by the age of 15, 33.2% scheduled caste women experience physical violence. The figure is 19.7% for “other” category women.
The violence continues, largely due to a sense of impunity among dominant castes.
Dalit women and girls are often the targets of hate crimes. Access to justice has been abysmal, with conviction rates at a measly 16.8 percent. Crimes against Dalits usually see half the conviction rate of the overall rate of conviction of crimes. Experts and activists say that low conviction rates and lack of prosecution of such cases of atrocities are the reasons why crimes against Dalits continue to rise.
Political power does not help:
Even when Dalit women acquire political power, as when they are elected as sarpanches, there is often no protection against the social power that sanctions violence and discrimination against them.
In a village with a Dalit woman sarpanch, a Dalit woman was burned, but no action was taken.
The risky workplaces compounded with a lack of labour rights protection measures render migrants Dalit women more vulnerable to occupational injury.
Further, the emerging problem of sub-contracting short-termed labour makes it more difficult for them to claim compensation when they are injured at work places.
Dalit women are most vulnerable to abuse and exploitation by employers, migration agents, corrupt bureaucrats and criminal gangs.
The enslavement trafficking also contributes to migration of large proportion of Dalit women.