08th February, 2016 (MAINS)


Q1. Debate the issue of whether and how contemporary movements for assertion of Dalit identity work towards annihilation of caste.

[12.5marks/2015/GS-1] 200 words.

Please write answer in the comments section.

  • Ashi Agarwal

    ‘Dalit’ is not a caste that one is born into and does not feature in the Hindu caste system, but is a constructed identity.The term ‘Dalit’
    expands to all those considered to be either similarly placed or as being ‘natural allies’ as victims of exploitation and discrimination, be it
    political, social or religious. Contemporary movements empowered Dalits politically and Bahujan Samaj Party formed its government in
    Uttar Pradesh but this political party also did not eradicate caste system. It emphasizes on remaining caste system for its political mileage.
    Social reform movements and religious conversion movements also could not counter successfully against caste system, but they created
    groups of elites among Dalit communities, which use their communities to serve their own interests.
    Currently, Dalit movements in India are not unified but each of them articulates a particular identity, be they Christian Dalits, Neo-
    Buddhists or Muslim Dalits. Social reform movements for betterment of Dalits have failed to create an alternative socio- cultural identity
    that could voice the aspirations of all the oppressed castes. The modern Dalit parties with reservation and political representation do
    nothing to deconstruct caste system. Rather than attempting to bring about the annihilation of caste there is an increasing reliance on
    ‘caste-identity-politics’ that only reinforces divisions.