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You are here: Home | Poverty | Agenda | Social exclusion

Towards inclusion and equity

By Prakash Louis

Exclusion is the denial of control over natural resources; the denial of opportunities for healthcare, education, housing; the denial of the right to participation in social, economic, political and cultural life; the denial of human rights and human dignity. Because it is an institutionalised and socially/religiously sanctioned attempt to exclude, segregate or cast out a segment of the population, it is that much more difficult to change. But social exclusion is being challenged in India in multiple ways

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Garbage as a metaphor

By Nityanand Jayaraman

There are many who claim that modern-day discrimination is based solely on economic terms, not on caste or communal lines. But the view from Kamatchi Devi's house in the Kodungaiyur garbage dump in Chennai is different. Where there is hazardous waste you will only find dalit and other backward castes. Like trash, some people are still considered disposable

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1,001 battles: Converting dalit numbers into dalit strength

By Padmalatha Ravi

In 1,001 villages of Tumkur district of Karnataka, dalits are organising themselves to wrest back their lands, learn about dalit history, celebrate dalit identity and demand participation in local governance. They will not talk about their sufferings any longer, they say. They will not endure discrimination either

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Caste is the cruellest exclusion

By Gail Omvedt

Caste is a form of social exclusion that is firmly entrenched because it is justified by religious scriptures. Brahmanic theory gave religious sanction to an unequal society. This article traces both the history of caste and the history of opposition to it

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Dalit exclusion: The empirical evidence

By Sukhadeo Thorat

In 60% of Rajasthani villages surveyed, dalits are not hired to cook midday meals. In 25% of 555 villages surveyed nation-wide, dalits were paid less wages; in 35% they were not allowed to sell goods at village markets; and in 47% of villages they were not allowed to sell milk to cooperatives. No wonder dalits have lower human development and higher poverty levels

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Caste is entrenched in the Indian diaspora

By Nikki Van Der Gaag

Caste permeates the Indian diaspora. In the US, large meetings are held to get young people from the same caste together. Jat pride and Jat nationalism are rampant in UK's popular bhangra music. Worst of all, caste discrimination amongst the Indian diaspora is a relatively recent phenomenon and getting stronger. As religious and ethnic identity become increasingly important, caste seems to be getting more entrenched

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Giving adivasis a voice

By G N Devy

The 80 million adivasis and 60 million de-notified tribes in India are possibly amongst the most excluded communities. How should their exclusion be addressed, even as their language and culture are protected? This article documents how the Bhasha Institute, which was set up to record and preserve adivasi languages and oral traditions, moved on to address other needs, from education to food security and from craft to credit

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Queer azadi

By Siddharth Narrain

The Pride marches in Delhi, Kolkata, Bangalore and Mumbai this year marked the coming of age of a more confident and open queer community in India. It has taken many years of patient organising to reach this far. Whether it is mobilising the community, working on legal reform, speaking out in the media, or advocacy efforts with the government, the LGBT movement has gradually worked towards making this an issue that people cannot ignore any longer

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Tamil Nadu pioneers transgender inclusion

By Anupama Sekhar

The 300,000-strong community of transgenders in Tamil Nadu, until recently ghettoised and reduced to begging or doing sex work, has won major battles for inclusion, notable among which is a special 'third gender' category for transgenders on ration cards. Transgender icons such as television host Rose and Noori of the South India Positive Network have found a new visibility in the media. The cloak of invisibility transgenders have worn for generations is slowly slipping, and it is community-based organisations that are driving the change

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The silence of same sex desiring women

By Ponni Arasu

Same sex desiring women in India are living their lives and fighting their battles in homes, streets, courts and police stations. Their lives are complicated by virtue of them being women, and further complicated by class, caste and regional subjectivities. Over the last two decades, however, there has been a greater visibility of same sex desiring women in the public sphere, giving them some space for contestation -- and thereby assertion -- of their rights

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No white for these widows

By Freny Manecksha

For centuries, social reforms for widows and other single women in India have meant the setting up of ashrams and widow re-marriage. The widows who have banded together to contest their exclusion under the banner of the Ekal Nari Sangathan, in Rajasthan and other states, reject those dated solutions. These women are demanding their rights and dismissing the welfare approach. They are bringing colour back into their lives

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Hukumnama against female foeticide

By Anosh Malekar

In Punjab, the state with the lowest sex ratio in India at 798 girls per 1,000 boys, the Sikh clergy has been roped into the effort to save the girl-child. The Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee is planning to set up cradles to receive unwanted girl-children at gurdwaras, while the state administration has already started its own cradle baby scheme. Will this strategy work in a state where 50 discarded female foetuses were found at the bottom of a well in 2006?

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Sex workers as economic agents

By Manjima Bhattacharjya

There are three axes along which sex workers are marginalised -- the criminality associated with their work, the morality that keeps them ostracised, and the informality of their labour which deprives them of bank accounts, insurance, or employment security. Recognition of their labour and economic contribution is one of the first steps in mainstreaming sex workers and according them dignity and rights. The Sangini Women's Cooperative Bank in Mumbai's red light area has made a good beginning

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Exclusion of Muslims

By J S Bandukwala

This article traces the exclusion of Muslims to the conversion of dalits and backward classes to Islam centuries ago. Islam gave them a sense of identity and equality, but made no difference to their socio-economic situation, since Islam was imposed on the caste system. The gulf widened with 600 years of Muslim rule, and with Muslim rejection of everything Western -- including education -- after the British came to India

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Persons with disability may apply

By Monideepa Sahu

Until very recently the disabled had severely limited opportunities for employment. That is changing slowly but surely as the public and private sector realise the benefits of inclusion of the disabled not just as a token gesture but as a business imperative. Bangalore's Infosys BPO employs 165 persons with disability, Mphasis employs 140 at its Bangalore office. And 90% of the workforce at Vindhya E-Infomedia is disabled

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Discrimination is built into our legislation

By Alok Prakash Putul

India passed the Leprosy Act in 1898 to ensure that leprosy patients did not face discrimination. A hundred years on, Indian laws and regulations do just that. Legislation in several states prevents leprosy patients from obtaining a driving licence, travelling in trains, and contesting panchayat elections. And many marriage laws make "contracting leprosy" grounds for divorce

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India's leprosy colonies

By Freny Manecksha

India is home to around 60% of the world's leprosy-affected. Despite the fact that most of them are cured, they -- and their children -- are forced to settle in one of 630 leprosy colonies in India. They are not welcome anywhere else. Sanjay Nagar in Borivali, Mumbai, is one such ghetto

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Battling the triple burden of poverty, religion and gender

By Anosh Malekar

Barely 40 km from Gurgaon in Mewat district lives the impoverished Muslim community, the Meos. The Islamic way of life is strictly followed here, and women's education frowned upon, resulting in a dismal 2.13% literacy status for Meo women -- the lowest in the country. Women here have been considered second-class citizens for centuries. But the exclusion of Meo women is slowly being remedied by Vinodkumar Kanathia, who has managed to open 97 girls' education centres here

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The fallacy of equality

By Oishik Sircar

The Constitution guarantees us the right to equality and non-discrimination. But is it guaranteeing only a 'formal equality' while in effect maintaining the status quo of 'substantive inequality' in the lives of disadvantageously-situated citizens?

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