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

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‘Honour’ versus Self-respect

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As has been reported in the electronic media, a local upper-caste landowner from one of the villages in Uttar Pradesh (UP) allegedly forced the members from a Dalit family to touch his feet with the intention to humiliate them. The alleged intention had the context in which the “touchable” landowner suspected that cross-voting of the Dalit family was responsible for the defeat of one of his relatives in the elections to local bodies that were held in May 2021 in UP.

However, this is not a new case that can be isolated from the history of humiliation that Dalits have been facing, even after the constitutional provisions that have been put in place and the administrative mechanism to implement these provisions. Humiliation seems to go unabated destroying the self-respect of Dalits. However, the UP case alerts us to the universal truth that suggests the following: socio-economic power acquires preponderance over the power of voting, which resides in every eligible citizen with equal political value. The truth that emerges from the alleged intention to humiliate members of the Dalit family compels the landowner to seek moral compensation in the former’s humiliation. What is at issue in this particular case is that it presents a complex picture of two different narratives of self-worth. The local landowning person defines his sense of self-worth in terms of honour, while the Dalit defines theirs in terms of self-respect. The landowner seeks to redeem his self-worth by processing it through the asymmetrical sense of honour, which is processed through four modalities.

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Updated On : 10th Jul, 2021

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