ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Internal Caste Cleavages among Dalits in Punjab

Punjab houses the highest number of Scheduled Castes in comparison with all other states in India. Despite the common nomenclature—SCs, Dalits are sharply divided into 39 castes. This caste heterogeneity impacts their upward social mobility and political mobilisation in multifarious ways.

Sacralising Dalit Peripheries

Dalit peripheries in the vicinity of mainstream villages in Punjab are now no longer stigmatised neighbourhoods. On the contrary, they are fast becoming critical sites of Dalit social protest and assertion. This is often attributed to the sacred and radical ethos of the indigenous Dalit religion in the state--the Ravidassia dharm. Until quite recently, these peripheries were characterised as dens of poverty, filth and disease with no political reverberation except during short electoral intervals or the annual celebration of the anniversaries of guru Ravidass and B R Ambedkar. Often ignored, they remained silent service sectors with a variety of cheap manual labour and dumping grounds for the disposal of the waste of mainstream villages. But over the last few years, the agency of the Ravidass deras has empowered them to assert a separate Dalit identity and demand a share in the local structures of power.

Arrest of Punjabi Publishers and Editors

The arrest of two Punjabi publishers and two editors for reprinting books of poet Babu Rajab Ali which allegedly contained some then-used caste names under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is a thoughtless, callous and ruthless ­action taken by the Punjab...

Social Exclusion, Resistance and Deras

The recent violent conflicts in Punjab represent a typical case of a marginal community's (dalits) fight against social exclusion and the resistance that it encounters from a dominant caste. Despite improvement in economic position over the years, there has not been a commensurate improvement in the social status of dalits even after their conversion to Sikhism as caste iniquities, in the form of dominant cultural patterns, still persist in Punjab. The emergence of a large number of deras as alternate spiritual sites for the oppressed is linked to this phenomenon.
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