Discrimination against Dalits in contemporary India: affirmative action, religious conversions and women’s activism as responses to caste-based social injustice

Lucas, E. (2017) Discrimination against Dalits in contemporary India: affirmative action, religious conversions and women’s activism as responses to caste-based social injustice. M.A. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Abstract

Due to entrenched social caste divisions, discrimination against Dalits is a serious on-G.O.I.ng issue in contemporary India. This thesis focuses on how the caste system affects the lives and treatment of Dalits. It highlights that, as the caste system is the focal point of Hindu society, it affects every aspect of Indian life and is impossible to escape from.

It also discusses how the government has attempted to close the gap of inequality using affirmative action policies. However, evidence suggests that the government is more concerned with the appearance of eradicating untouchability discrimination, than actually making continuous steps to help Dalits and change caste-based viewpoints. In many ways, the government has served to worsen the social divide.

Dalits have fought for an escape from discrimination by converting to other religions, such as Buddhism and Christianity. Conversion to Buddhism has been moderately successful in uniting Dalits under a common goal of escaping untouchability, but has failed to create real separation from Hinduism. There are differences found between Christian denominations as to the treatment of Dalits. Pentecostalism has provided Dalits with a life completely devoid of caste. However, Dalits that converted to Catholicism found no reprieve from caste-based discrimination, as the social hierarchy is a strong feature in Indian Catholic communities. Also, as Christian conversion is heavily objected to, India has seen an increase in caste-related violence as a result.

Dalit women face unique discrimination, separate from dalit discrimination as a whole. In traditional settings, women are treated as sex slaves and objects. In upwardly mobile settings they are responsible for maintaining the family’s elevated social status. Dalit women become controlled by their men, an imitation of upper caste traditions, and are victims of domestic violence.

All of this research concludes that a true eradication of the practice of untouchability is impossible, without a complete reformation of India’s education system and Hindu society. This includes denouncing the caste system as the core of Indian society, and the encompassing beliefs of hierarchy. Only this will enable Dalits to live as equals.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion > BL0660 History and principles of religions > BL1000 Asian. Oriental > BL1750 By region or country > BL2000 India
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion > BL0425 Religious doctrines (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion > BL0425 Religious doctrines (General) > BL0458 Women in comparative religion
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BL Religion > BL0074 Religions of the world
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Miss Rosemary Cox
Date Deposited: 24 Apr 2018 08:45
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2018 00:35
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/17269

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00