Está en la página 1de 3

Problems faced by the Scheduled Castes The Varna system which existed during the Vedic period, in course

of time degenerated into the caste system. Since then, the Scheduled Castes who are known as Untouchables have been suffering from various social, religious, political, legal, economic, educational and other disabilities. For centuries they were denied political representation, legal rights, civic facilities, educational privileges and economic opportunities. During the British Rule also, nothing was done to uplift the Scheduled Castes and to relieve them from their bondages. Even today, the Scheduled Castes are not free from problems. (a) Social Restrictions and Disabilities Low status in the caste hierarchy. In the caste hierarchy, the SCs are ascribed the lowest status. They are considered to be unholy, inferior and low and are looked down upon by other castes. They have been suffering from the stigma of untouchability. Their very touch is considered to be polluting for the higher caste people. Hence they have been treated as servants of the other caste people. Education Disabilities. The Harijans were forbidden from taking up to education during the early days. Sanskrit education was denied for them. Public schools and other educational institutions were clothes for them. Even today, majority of them are illiterate and ignorant. Civic Disabilities. For a long time, the untouchable castes were not allowed to use public places and avail civic facilities such as village wells, ponds, temples, hostels, hotels, schools, hospitals, lecture halls, etc. They were forced to live on the outskirts of the towns and villages during the early days. Even today, they are segregated from other spatially. Restrictions are imposed on the mode of construction of their houses, types of dresses and patters of their ornamentation. Some lower caste people were not allowed to carry umbrellas, to wear shoes or golden ornament and to milk cows.

(b) Religious Disabilities The Harijans also suffer from religious disabilities even today. They are not allowed to enter temples in many places. The Brahmins, who offer their priestly services to some lower castes, are not prepared to officiate in the ceremonies of the untouchable castes. They do not even bow down to the deities of these untouchable castes. The Vedic Mantras which are considered to be more pure could not be listened to and chanted by the Harijans because of the taboos.

(c) Economic Disabilities The Harijans are economically backward and have been suffering from various economic disabilities also. No right of property ownership. For centuries, the Harijans were not allowed to have land and business of their own. It is only recently their ownership to the property has become recognised. The propertied people are comparatively less in them. Majority of them depend upon agriculture but only a few of them own land. Selection of Occupations limited. The caste system imposes restrictions on the occupational choice of the members. The occupational choice was very much limited for the Harijans. They were not allowed to take up to occupations which were reserved for the upper caste people. Landless Labourers. Majority of the Harijans are today working as landless labourers. More than 90% of the agricultural labourers in India belong to the depressed classes which include the SCs and STs. The Harijans are economically exploited by the upper caste people. Even today, they are the lowest paid workers. Some of them continue to suffer as bonded labourers at the hands of the higher caste people. Political Disabilities. The untouchables hardly participated in the political matters. They were not given any place in the politics, administration and the general governance of India. They were not allowed to hold any public post. Political rights and representation were denied to them. Under the British rule, they were given the right to vote for the first time. After independence, equal political opportunities and rights have been provided for the Harijans also.

Measures for the welfare of Scheduled Castes The government of India has been trying to uplift the Scheduled Castes. The governmental attempts to promote the welfare of SCs through Constitutional and legislative measures. The Government has incorporated some special provisions in the Constitutition for the removal of untouchability and to promote the welfare of SCs. The Constitution ensures the protection and assures the promotion of interests of SCs in the fields such as (1) political representation, (2) representation in services, (3) economic development, (4) socio-cultural safeguards and (5) legal support. 1. Articles 15, 16, 17, 28, and 46 guarantee that the state shall not discriminate between persons on account of their religion or region and caste or class. 2. Article 15 prohibits discrimination on grounds of religion, caste, race, sex or place of birth. 3. Article 17 abolishes untouchability. It is further provided that the enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with the law. 4. Article 46 promotes the educational and economic interests of SCs.

5. 6. 7. 8.

Article 330 reserves representation for SCs in the House of the People. Article 332 provides for the representation of SCs in the Legislatives Assemblies. Article 341 gives power to the President to declare a caste as a Scheduled Caste. Article 342 gives power to the President to declare a tribe as a Scheduled Tribe.

The Government has been taking u the required legislative measures for the removal of untouchability. In pursuance of the provision of the Article 17 of the Constitution which declares the practice of Untouchability a punishable offence, the Parliament passed the Untouchability Offences Act, 1955. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 was enacted by the Parliament of India, to prevent atrocities against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. The Act was enacted to free Indian society from blind and irrational adherence to traditional beliefs and to establish a bias free society. Despite various measures adopted to improve the socio-economic conditions of the SCs and STs they remain vulnerable and are subject to various offences, indignities and humiliations and harassment. When they assert their rights and against the practice of Untouchability against them, the vested interest try to cow them down and terrorize them. Atrocities against the SCs and STs still continued. Thus objectives of the Act clearly emphasize the intention of the Government to deliver justice to these communities through proactive efforts to enable them to live in society with dignity and self-esteem and without fear or violence or suppression from the dominant castes. The practice of untouchability, in its overt and covert form was made a cognizable and non compoundable offence, and strict punishment is provided for any such offence.