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

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Caste Indignities and Subjected Personhoods

Recent debates on caste-based reservations have called attention to the need to fine-tune the process of selection of candidates but have overlooked the deeper problems that confront the average scheduled caste person. Socialisation patterns, sanskritisation, experiences in the public sphere and the educational institutions compound the subjection of dalit personhoods, leading to the loss of agency, orientation and sense of self-worth. Recognising this is imperative for the public and for all institutions so as to enable, integrate and scaffold the talents, skills and worth of scheduled community members.

T he intricacies of caste, as a system, as an idea, and as a form of social stratification have been much debated and written about. But, what has been the impact of the caste system on the personhoods of those who are at the receiving end of its rules of hierarchy, pollution and untouchability? As Berreman has noted, The human meaning of caste for those who live it is power and vulnerability, privilege and oppression, honour and denigration, plenty and want, reward and deprivation, security and anxiety [cited in Raman 2003: 89]. While descriptions and representations of such lived experiences are just beginning to be highlighted, little has been noted about how caste as a system creates in people dispositions that define not only relations between different caste members, but also their own notions of personhood, identity and self-worth.

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