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A 15 year old Dalit girl in Odisha picked a flower from a Savarna person’s garden. For this ‘crime’, 40 Dalit families have been ‘socially boycotted’. This, in 2020?! Enough, already!
I woke up to a truly bone chilling news that over 40 Dalit families from Odisha’s Dhenkanal district have been socially boycotted for over a fortnight. What heinous crime has warranted such extreme humiliation you ask?
A 15 year old girl had apparently plucked a flower from the garden of an upper class person.
I was flabbergasted reading such news early in the morning. Coming from a position of privilege in a modern metropolitan city, I was never discriminated against, and to read about such instances really happening in the world were truly mind boggling.
The representatives of the Dalit community had made a formal apology on the young girl’s behalf. However, they have still been subjected to a ‘social boycott’ which includes barring them from all social events and denied ration from the local stores.
If this is what they have to endure for something as meagre as plucking a flower, I cannot begin to imagine the social restraints on their everyday lives.
For years together, along with my fellow classmates I have whined over the reservation system. Of how despite studying equally hard, students of the OBC, SC and ST communities had an unfair advantage over the rest of us. Being the selfish teenager I was, I have never stopped to consider the difficulties they faced. I was taught that caste is merely a social construct and has been abolished long since.
Today I’m ashamed to say that I was ignorant of their plight and I understand how important that reservation is to these marginalised communities.
The divide and rule policy employed by the British is sadly still in play. Our history textbooks proudly claim that we do not discriminate based on caste, yet such incidents highlight the sad state of affairs in many parts of our country. We are left to question if customs such as untouchability which seems ancient to us, is a reality for many others.
At an age where the world is fighting against racism, we are still fighting a battle against casteism. The question we are left to ask ourselves is, we’ve finished 73 years of Independence, but have we truly set aside all the barriers that divide us?
How long before equality is truly achieved?
Image source: a still from the film Article 15
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