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India’s Upper Caste Consensus
The events in Hyderabad show that there is no unanimity or consensus of Hindu opinion…
The 2011 census in India showed the population of Indians belonging to Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as being over 25 per cent of the population. Of these 16.6 per cent are dalits and 8.6 per cent are adivasis. These are the other names by which these communities (whom the British called Untouchables and Tribals) are known.
One fourth of India means 300 million or 30 crore people. If they were a nation by themselves, they would be the fourth largest in the world, after China, India and the United States. But in our white collar economy they have almost no presence.
The main reason for this is lack of access to quality education and historical lack of opportunity for employment. The constitution has tried to correct this by introducing reservations in educational institutions and government jobs. But the middle class (which means upper caste) Indians of our cities feel that they are discriminated against by reservations and that their ‘merit’ should not be sacrificed.
I can guarantee that in any major, urban, white collar office the most likely place to find Dalits is in the list of grade 1 employees. This comprises those who clean. There is absolutely no shame that is felt by these institutions over this fact. Such things are not even thought about. Both Dalits and adivasis are totally marginalised in our economy and our media.
I am writing about this because of an event in Hyderabad where a Dalit student killed himself. Rohith Vemula, a PhD student, and four others were expelled from their hostel after pressure