JAC Board Class 8th Social Science Notes Civics Chapter 8 Confronting Marginalisation
→ Religious solace, armed struggle, self improvement and education, economic uplift – there appears to be no one way of doing things. Adivasis, Dalits, Muslims, women and other marginal groups argue that simply by being citizens of a democratic country, they possess equal rights that must be respected.
→ Invoking Fundamental Rights:
- The marginalised have drawn on the rights in two ways: first, by insisting on their Fundamental Rights, they have forced the government to recognise the injustice done to them. Second, they have insisted that the government enforce these laws.
- In some instances, the struggles of the marginalised have influenced the government to frame new laws in keeping with the spirit of the Fundamental Rights.
- Article 17 of the Constitution states that untouchability has been abolished, this means that no one can henceforth prevent Dalits from educating themselves, entering temples, using public facilities, etc.
- Untouchability is a punishable crime now.
- Article 15 of the Constitution notes that no citizen of India shall be discriminated
against on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth. This has been used by Dalits to seek equality where it has been denied to them.
- Dalits can ‘invoke’ or ‘draw on’ a Fundamental Right (or Rights) in situations where they feel that they have been treated badly by some individual or community or even by the government.
- By granting different forms of cultural rights, the Constitution tries to ensure cultural justice to such groups.
- The Constitution does this so that the culture of these groups is not dominated nor wiped out by the culture of the majority community.
→ Laws for the Marginalised:
- There are specific laws and policies for the marginalised in our country.
- There are policies or schemes that emerge through other means like setting up a committee or by undertaking a survey, etc.
→ Promoting Social Justice:
- As part of their effort to implement the Constitution, both state and central governments create specific schemes for implementation in tribal areas or in areas that have a high Dalit population.
- One such law/policy is the reservation policy that today is both significant and highly contentious.
- The laws which reserve seats in education and government employment for Dalits and Adivasis are based on an important argument.
- Governments across India have their own list of Scheduled Castes (or Dalits), Scheduled Tribes and backward and most backward castes. The central government too has its list.
- Students applying to educational institutions and those applying for posts in government are expected to furnish proof of their caste or tribe status, in the form of caste and tribe certificates.
→ Protecting the Rights of Dalits and Adivasis
In addition to policies our country also has specific law’s that guard against the discrimination and exploitation of marginalised communities.
→ The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
- In order to indicate to the government that untouchability was still being practised and in the most hideous manner, Dalit groups demanded new laws that would list the various sorts of violence against dalits and prescribe stringent punishment for those who indulge in them.
- The Act contains a very long list of crimes some of which are too horrible even to contemplate.
- The Act does not only describe terrible crimes but also lets people know what dreadful deeds human beings are capable of.
- The Act distinguishes several levels of crimes. Firstly, it lists modes of humiliation that are both physically horrific and morally reprehensible and seeks to punish.
- Secondly, it lists actions that dispossess Dalits and Adivasis of their meagre resources or which force them into performing slave labour.
- At another level, the Act recognises that crimes against Dalit and tribal women are of a specific kind and, therefore, seeks to penalise anyone who assaults or uses force on any woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe with intent to dishonour her.
→ Adivasi Demands and the 1989 Act:
- The 1989 Act is important for another reason – Adivasi activists refer to it to defend their right to occupy land that was traditionally theirs.
- Activists have asked that those who have forcibly encroached upon tribal lands should be punished under this law.
- C.K. Janu, an Adivasi activist, has also pointed out that one of the violators of Constitutional rights guaranteed to tribal people are governments in the various states of India.
- She has also noted that in cases where tribals have already been evicted and cannot go back to their lands, they must be compensated.
- The existence of a right or a law or even a policy on paper does not mean that it exists in reality.
- People have had to constantly work on or make efforts to translate these into principles that guide the actions of their fellow citizens or even their leaders.