Politics of Caste-based Exclusion and Poverty Alleviation Schemes in Rural India
While social inclusion and inclusive societies are commendable goals, and also reflected in legislation and policies, the persistence of poverty and social deprivation suggests the need engage with how In spite of legislation prohibiting caste-based exclusionary practices in India, and implementation of reservation policies and welfare schemes, the vast majority of the Dalits – the so-called ‘lower castes’ continue to Caste-based stratification represents one of the most pervasive forms of social exclusion injustice with the so-called ‘lower castes’ or Dalits having been historically exposed to multiple exclusions and the majority continuing to experience social deprivation and poverty. Associated with the Hindu tradition, the caste ideology legitimises inequality according to the status of birth, restricts interactions between the castes, and accords differential privileges according to where a person is placed in the caste ladder. Since gaining Independence, the government of India has enacted legislation penalising caste-based exclusionary practices such as untouchability, and implemented reservation policies as well as welfare schemes to improve the upward mobility of the Dalits. This paper is concerned with the ways in which Dalits have been included in and benefited from such targeted legislation and schemes. Based on fieldwork conducted in 'Ambedkar' villages (with special programmes for Scheduled castes) and 'Non-Ambedkar' villages in Uttar Pradesh, it was found that, in spite of progressive legislations, schemes, central monitoring system and a pro-Dalit political party in power, there were no significant changes in the livelihood options of the Dalits in Ambedkar and non-Ambedkar villages. The paper shows that the relatively ‘high’ castes used their economic, political and patronage powers to influence the local government, implementing agencies and the police to subvert these schemes in their favour, resulting in the adverse incorporation of the Dalits into schemes specifically targeted to their benefit. The problem was compound by the fragmented nature of government and NGO interventions, which did not sufficiently recognize the interlocking and cumulative nature of the exclusions and atrocities experienced by poor Dalits, particularly with respect to their human rights, human development and human security in their daily lives. Under these circumstances, caste-based ideologies and practices continued to perpetuate the lower status of the Dalits by integrating them into programmes and schemes in accordance with dominant norms, values, rights and processes of inclusion and exclusion. The paper suggests that countering social inclusion and promoting secure and sustainable social inclusion of vulnerable groups involves unpacking and challenging the norms of inclusion that often validate the values of the more powerful, while discrediting which often favour the more powerful political and economic prorecognising the different ways in inclusion and exclusion which multiple the government and other concerned actors need to develop multiple strategies at different levels to develop more effective and sustainable ways of the Dalits in rural India.
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Kurian, R, & Singh, D. (2017). Politics of Caste-based Exclusion and Poverty Alleviation Schemes in Rural India. Presented at the The Politics of Inclusion International workshop. Retrieved from http://hdl.handle.net/1765/114952