It’s tough being a Dalit.

Credits – Human History

For years, Dalits have suffered the consequences of being Dalit. Their daughters are raped, sons are murdered and whatnot. I’ll narrate to you 3 stories that I came to know through my friends, family and the internet.

I had to take the help of the internet because I have been travelling for the past few days and couldn’t meet a lot of people. Coming to the point, this is a story from Bhilai. A Dalit family used to survive on wages. Their daily wage was delayed. They asked the landlord to pay them their dues. Instead of paying them back, he tortured them. He locked them in a room. They starved for days. This story is not even reported anywhere because it never came out. Imagine asking for what is yours and getting thrashed for it. You start to become less of yourself every day.

This story is from mahulpala village. The residents of this village collected money to build a temple. Dalits(10% of the population also contributed money and labour) to the temple. But when the temple was inaugurated, they were asked to step outside the temple. They started praying from outside of the temple. They were thrashed by the priest’s son for even touching the temple. When they filed a complaint. The whole village started to boycott them. They refused to sell anything to them. They refused to let them inside the village. The district administration has signed a compromise that they can pray from outside the village. A temple that they built themselves refuses to let them in.

Another story comes from the school I studied in. There was a boy named Govind. He was in our class. He found it very difficult to be around us. Because nobody respected his presence. Everyone teased him. And it was not friendly banter.

Imagine living in an environment where you are not even considered a decent human being. Nobody wants to listen to you. Nobody respects you. And imagine this place to be your school. That is the worst thing that can ever happen to you. We created that environment for Govind. He came to school every day. He tried to fit in between us every day but we never let him fit in. He always wanted to play with us but we never allowed him to. What I feel bad about is that I watched it happening around me and I did nothing. You never forget the trauma you faced as a child. I was part of the reason Govind faced such a thing in the first place.

Discriminating against anyone based on their caste signifies only one thing. SUPERIORITY COMPLEX. When a person assumes their caste is superior than the other person, they feel “free” to discriminate against them. This shows the lack of logic that is applied while discriminating against someone. It makes no sense and it has to stop. When you discriminate against someone, you’re mocking your intellect. RISE ABOVE.

Development of Rural Women in Vidarbha Region, Maharashtra

Credits- The guardian

The Vidarbha region of Maharashtra primarily consists of four major cities. Nagpur being the largest has a huge rural population which is deprived of stable sources of income and is riddled with social problems including alcoholism. The primary contributor to the alcoholism problem is the male population. Inadvertently, the women of the household have to take up the responsibility of earning the bread. In regions lacking educational infrastructure, women have to not only overcome sexism, misogyny and toxic masculinity to earn, but they also have to battle the unavailability of jobs and the unwillingness of employers to employ women just to keep the food on the table. Out of the 48 lakh unemployed people in Maharashtra, the Vidarbha region contributes 6 lakh of them. Although an older report, according to the 2013-14 Report on District Level Estimates for the state of Maharashtra, Nagpur reported 27% unemployment in urban areas and a staggering 55.3% in rural areas. As mentioned earlier, this was a relatively old statistic. However, going through the Covid-19 pandemic hasn’t done any good in the rural employment sector.

Taking the dire unemployment situation into consideration as well as considering the rising issue of alcoholism amongst the general male population in the region, it has also given rise to domestic violence, marital rape and sexual assault under influence. The Covid-19 pandemic and the Lockdown made this situation a lot worse as unemployment was peaking and the availability of alcoholic beverages was very low. Upon gathering statistics from an NGO called Aroha working for the development of rural women, it was found that domestic violence cases simply multiplied by 2.3 times during the first lockdown (March – July 2020). This is an extremely dire situation and it is continually worsening with the increase in economic disparity and water shortages reaching an all-time high. This is the time when the need to empower women to gain financial stability and independence is the most. The NGO Aroha has taken this as their mission and has been working towards training women in making handicraft items and selling them on an international market through powerful marketing and product development via their brand Rangers.

Rangers is a traditional eco-friendly, high-quality handicrafts store based in Nagpur which sells purses, handbags, lamp shades etc which are made by women from rural areas and all the profit is evenly divided between all women involved, contributing to their financial independence.

Aroha starts by enrolling women who are in dire need of financial assistance. They start by providing them with training in handcrafting, Warli art, stitching, embroidery and block printing. Then, once the women graduate with enough skills, they’re hired by Rangaresha which provides them with employment, stable income as well as incentives for them to work. Aroha is financially supported by Larsen & Toubro Ltd. Since 2004, Aroha steadfastly remained focused on the promotion of livelihoods, capacity-building initiatives and extending training support as well as surfacing as a resource agency for all of the above for the benefit of other allied agencies. With time self-help group formation activities were also undertaken. In the past 17 years, Aroha has helped 1739 women overcome poverty and has made them

capable of standing up for themselves and fighting back against years of oppression. Although the actual statistical data about profits and actual gross income from handicrafts remains unknown and the organisation didn’t provide that information, it is undeniable that the organisation and their vision had been successful in their initiative and continue to empower women to date.