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Why Are Constitutional Safegaurds To Dalits Just On Paper?

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The Constitution of India provides for all  citizens social, economic and political justice and equality of status and opportunity. The Directive Principles of state policy under Article 46 provide “the State shall promote with special care in educational and economic interests of the weaker sections of the people and in particular of SC’s/ST’s and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation.” To achieve this objective, social, economic, educational, cultural and political safeguards and protective measures were provided in the Constitution for the deprived, weaker and vulnerable sections to ensure all-round development so as to bring them into the mainstream of the nation at par with other sections of the society.

For equal opportunities, the Constitution of India under article 29(1) states: “Any section of the citizens residing in the territory of India or any part thereof having a distinct language, script or culture of its own shall have the right to conserve the same.”

As Dalits are considered ‘untouchable’, the Article 17 of the Constitution says: “Untouchability is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of “Untouchability” shall be an offence punishable in accordance with the law.”

At many places in India, there are villages where Hindus do not allow Dalits enter temples for prayers and deity-offerings. To eradicate this difference, Article 25(2)(b) states that “of clause reference to Hindus shall be construed as including a reference to persons professing the Sikh, Jain or Buddhist religion, and the reference to Hindu religious institutions shall be construed accordingly.”

For the upliftment and empowerment of the backward classes, Article 16 (4) says, “Nothing in this article shall prevent the State from making any provision for the reservation of appointments or posts in favor of any backward class of citizens which, in the opinion of the State, is not adequately represented in the services under the State.”

The constitution provides education support also to SCs and STs, “Nothing in this article or in clause ( 2 ) of Article 29 shall prevent the State from making any special provision for the advancement of any socially and educationally backward classes of citizens or for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes.”

Even for the political reservation and their development, Article 330 (2) states, “The number of seats reserved in any State or Union territory for the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes under clause ( 1 ) shall bear, as nearly as may be, the same proportion to the total number of seats allotted to that State or Union territory in the House of the People as the population of the Scheduled Castes in the State or Union territory or of the Scheduled Tribes in the State or Union territory or part of the State or Union territory, as the case may be, in respect of which seats are so reserved, bears to the total population of the State or Union territory.”

To safeguard the respect of SC/ST’s, the constitution of India provides in Article 338 Special Officer for Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes etc. as follows:

(1) There shall be a Special Officer for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes to be appointed by the President.

(2) It shall be the duty of the Special Officer to investigate all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under this Constitution and report to the President upon the working of those safeguards at such intervals as the President may direct, and the President shall cause all such reports to be laid before each House of Parliament.

(3) In this article references to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes shall be construed as including references to such other backward classes as the President may, on receipt of the report of a Commission appointed under clause ( 1 ) of Article 340, by order specify and also to the Anglo Indian community.

However, after so many laws, commissions and special status, Dalits are still backward, and marginalized even today in Indian society. After the institutional murder of research scholar of the University of Hyderabad, Rohit Vemula, many NGOs, civil liberties, Dalit organisations and student organizations are struggling for Rohit Act to ensure the security of the Dalit and backward class students specially in university spaces.

Rohith’s family raised the demand for enactment of Rohith Act during the ongoing Parliament session (March 2016) to prevent discrimination and institutional atrocities towards Dalits, Tribals and marginalised sections in the educational institutions. Many political parties and opposition leaders said that the entire nation is in turmoil after Rohith’s death terming his suicide as an example of “injustice” with students of weaker sections at the educational institutions.

Even though the father of Constitution of India himself was a Dalit, after the implementation of Constitution since 1956, no guarantee is given to marginalized communities because the power has always been in upper caste hands. Another important point to understand and analyze here is “DID MAN MADE LAWS SAFEGUARD THE RIGHTS OF A HUMAN BY ANOTHER HUMAN”. I think the answer should be a big NO, because so many articles and rules in the Constitution are  unable to deliver justice and equality to Dalits in India because the Constitution of India is edited or compiled by a MAN.

Creator of any device or machine knows its way of usage and will provide a manual to get the idea to use that particular device, creator will finalize the specifications based on its usage, do’s and dont’s, etc. Similarly when majority of Humans across the world accepts that the Human beings are the creations of Almighty ALLAH or GOD or BHAGWAN or ISHWAR or KHUDA or PRABHU, their rules must be designed by the Creator Himself. A mobile cannot decide its own specifications but its creator can, accordingly how a human can decide the rules to be followed by other humans? Rules must be followed, but only those which are decided by the Creator.

 Ask them: “Who is the Lord of the heavens and the earth?” Say: “Allah.” Tell them: “Have you taken beside Him as your patrons those who do not have the power to benefit or to hurt even themselves?” Say: “Can the blind and the seeing be deemed equal? Or can light and darkness be deemed equals?” If that is not so, then have those whom they associate with Allah in His Divinity ever created anything like what Allah did so that the question of creation has become dubious to them? Say: “Allah is the creator of everything. He is the One, the Irresistible.” (Quran 13:16)

(This is the 4th article in the series India and Dalits)

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Syed Azharuddin is native of Warangal, Telangana State, completed KG to PG from his hometown Warangal. After completing master’s in technology from JNTU Hyderabad worked as Assistant Professor in department of Electronic and Communication. Later he did masters in English & Literature from MANUU, Hyderabad and Psychology from Kakatiya University, Warangal. Apart from various contributions in the field of engineering, he has done research work on "Education in Telangana '' issues of education in newly formed states and "Legal Awareness" a handbook on legal studies. He is a well known leader of Students Islamic Organisation of India and served SIO in various capacities and travelled across the nation. He is presently, Secretary General of SIO, CEO of Inqhab (a pan India incubation centre) and executive member of All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat. Azharuddin has experience of writing articles on burning issues, he contributed a series of articles on India and Dalits, Young Entrepreneurs, Crisis Management: Post Pandemic, Assam NRC and issues related to Education & Educational Institutions.

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